IREM Blogs


Keep the Infrastructure Focus on Funding

September 17, 2019 | John Salustri

Photo: iStock/shansekala

The past three years have seen an increased focus on the importance of infrastructure. IREM’s parent organization, the National Association of Realtors, has come out with a position paper on the topic.

https://www.nar.realtor/transportation-and-infrastructure#section-171191

Of course, the importance of a sound infrastructure is self-evident. Indeed, the paper calls it the basic fabric of economic competitiveness.

“An important element considered during the decision-making process of either purchasing a home or determining the best location for a business is the type of transportation options available to a property,” the paper states. “NAR has been involved with the National Complete Streets Coalition since 2008. The purpose of the Coalition is to ensure that transportation planners consider all users of the road during the design, construction and implementation phases of a transportation project.”

As the paper reports: “Improvements to infrastructure enhance property values. Traffic congestion imposes costs throughout the economy. Further constraints on funding for transportation projects of all types, particularly those that contribute to walkable, stable and vibrant neighborhoods, may negatively affect property values and inhibit development.”

And, as NAR points out, those constraints are huge. The paper reports that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), is insolvent. Created in 1956 to provide a dependable source of funding for the interstate highway system, revenues for the trust fund primarily come from federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. In recent years, however, the trust fund has required significant transfers from the U.S. Treasury to remain solvent.

There is other transportation planning work being done inside the Beltway. But NAR views this as insufficient, and calls for further action to level the playing field between highway funding and other modes of transit.

“Transportation plans should reflect a broad community vision,” NAR states, “considering the needs of all transportation users, and should emphasize repair and maintenance over development of new capacity. In addition, NAR supports a modest increase in the federal motor fuel tax and annual adjustments for inflation.

“Although a multi-year transportation package remains in effect until 2020, every year Congress must appropriate funding amounts for federal programs,” the Paper continues. “Two programs of importance to NAR within the Department of Transportation are at a perennial risk of losing funding: TIGER grants and the Small Starts and New Starts.”

On one hand, NAR believes, both of these programs give local governments the wherewithal to implement what it calls holistic transportation plans. On the other hand, “their future is uncertain. NAR will continue to urge Congress to fund transportation and infrastructure programs that meet the needs of the community, spur economic growth, and foster resilience and sustainability in a community.”

About the Author
John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, Inc., a consultancy focused on enhancing the web and print content of clients around the nation. He is a regular contributor to JPM Magazine and a frequent blogger for IREM. Prior to launching SCS, John was founding editor of GlobeSt.com.

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