Updated at 10:05 a.m. on October 26.
President Obama has made it clear that infrastructure investment and long-term transportation funding measures are a top priority for the administration next year. His most recent statement to that effect was in an exclusive interview with National Journal on October 19, when he said Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to work together to find more efficient ways to fund roads, bridges, rail, and runways.
On Columbus Day, Obama gathered together a host of transportation experts to discuss the need for a long-term transportation bill and ask Congress for $50 billion in up-front funding. The event coincided with a report published by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, co-chaired by former Transportation Secretaries Samuel Skinner and Norman Mineta. It called for new approaches to funding national highways, including "clear plan for transitioning, over the next decade, from the per-gallon fuel tax to a highway-use fee based on vehicle-miles traveled (VMT)."
Obama's Columbus Day plea was splashy, but it met with a collective yawn from Capitol Hill and an outright rebuff from Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who is slated to chair the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee if Republicans win control of the House next year.
Is now the time for a "serious, high-level policy discussion" on transportation, as Skinner and Mineta suggest? What do industry participants need to do to convince policymakers and the public that it's worth it to undertake such a task? What is the appropriate involvement of the administration in the talks?
Skinner and Mineta kindly provided us with an early response to this question, posted by staff reporter Rebecca Kaplan.