House Committee prioritizes transportation infrastructure despite fiscal constraints

The nation's infrastructure is in need of significant funding for maintenance projects, as can be seen from a new report detailing the number of structurally deficient bridges within the U.S. A new transportation bill aims to ensure essential road projects are well-funded, but this may call for fleets to rely more heavily on routing software, particularly if additional money granted by the government leads to construction initiatives nationwide.

Committee approves new budget
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) recently revealed an appropriations bill that provides $44.1 billion in discretionary spending for transportation and urban development projects. This is $2.6 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $7.4 billion below the President's request. The bill marks a 15 percent reduction from the amount spent last year, but it allocates funds to ensure the country's most critical infrastructure has the fiscal support necessary.

"This bill is an example of the current budgetary trade-offs facing our nation - the need to make deep cuts to meet our fiscal constraints and address the deficit, while maintaining funding for important government programs and services," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "This legislation reflects this dual goal, making the best use of limited tax dollars by focusing investments on transportation infrastructure critical to our economy and maintaining housing options for our most vulnerable citizens, while reducing or eliminating funding for lower-priority programs."

The bill allocates plenty of funding for highway projects. It provides almost $41 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal Highway Program. This represents an increase of $557 million when compared to 2013's budget.

The bill specifically prohibits the California High-Speed Rail Authority from accessing additional federal funds in 2014. While many people think the move to add this provision was largely symbolic, as reports suggest the agency was not anticipating receiving federal funds next year, it signals lawmakers are more committed to ensuring roads and bridges have the necessary funding.

Improving infrastructure could complicate trucking routes nationwide
With more infrastructure spending anticipated in 2013, transportation companies that complete long-haul runs, as well as last mile delivery, can rest assured they will be able to travel along well-maintained, safe roads. But the increase in spending could spur more highway construction projects across the country, which has the potential to throw delivery schedules off track. By implementing the use of route optimization software, drivers can ensure they are taking the most direct route to complete pickups and deliveries on time.