Benjamin R. Dierker
February 12, 2020
The mechanism we use to pay for road and bridge repair is the fuel tax that feeds the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Right now, 18.4 cents per gallon of gas goes to the Highway Trust Fund, which in turn is used for transportation infrastructure repair.
But electric vehicles don’t use gasoline and therefore don’t pay the fuel tax. So, with over a million EVs on the roads – weighing an average of 24 percent heavier than traditional combustion vehicles – the wear and tear impact adds up faster than policymakers realize. They’re using the same transportation infrastructure, and using it harder, but they’re not helping to maintain it for future generations.
Unless the revenue policy is reimagined, heavier, more fuel-efficient vehicles will keep wearing down the roads and not paying into the federal maintenance fund.
The costs of neglecting our transportation infrastructure is high. The U.S. Department of Transportation classified 54,560 bridges as structurally deficient in 2017. And according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave U.S. infrastructure a D+ on its report card that same year, failure to properly invest in our infrastructure could cost the U.S. $4 trillion in GDP and 2.5 million jobs by 2025.
To make matters worse, the Highway Trust Fund is routinely raided to pay for various other projects like local mass transit systems that have little to do with road repair. While mass transit is important, many from rural states argue that the 2.86 cents from the 18.4-cent gas tax that goes to mass transit projects should be spent on road repair, not the New York City subway system.