Nation's Aging Infrastructure 'No Longer Acceptable'

In its new report released to Congress, the National Surface Transportation and Revenue Study Commission advocates hundreds of billions in annual infrastructure expenditures, and a significant hike in the gas tax.

"A special commission is urging the government to raise federal gasoline taxes by as much as 40 cents per gallon over five years as part of a sweeping overhaul designed to ease traffic congestion and repair the nation's decaying bridges and roads.

The two-year study being released Tuesday by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, the first to recommend broad changes after the devastating bridge collapse in Minneapolis last August, warns that urgent action is needed to avoid future disasters.

Under the recommendation, the current tax of 18.4 cents per gallon for unleaded gasoline would be increased annually for five years - by anywhere from 5 cents to 8 cents each year - and then indexed to inflation afterward to help fix the infrastructure, expand public transit and highways as well as broaden railway and rural access, according to persons with direct knowledge of the report, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the report is not yet public.

The report also calls for rebuilding and expanding the national rail network to meet a growing demand for alternatives to congested highways.

The gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and recent efforts by Congress to raise it have faltered over the objections of the Bush administration. The tax increase being proposed is designed to take effect in 2009, after President Bush leaves office."

Full Story: Transit Panel Urges Gas Tax Increase

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