Salem, OR — Discussing infrastructure in an op-ed for the Statesman Journal — and looking to the new leadership of Congressman Peter DeFazio at the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee — former Oregon state senator and representative Kevin Mannix urges policymakers to shore up the Highway Trust Fund via a more sustainable, user-pay revenue stream akin to that of freight railroads.

“The current model, which relies primarily on fuel taxes paid at the pump, no longer works. Incoming revenues are nowhere near what is needed to sustainably fund highway and transit needs, and general-fund monies have been required to shore up the Highway Trust Fund.

The lone exception is our freight Class I rail system, which provides one part of the model Congressman DeFazio can look to for answers to the infrastructure funding puzzle. Class I railroads — America’s largest freight railroads — pay for their own infrastructure with little to no taxpayer support.”

Noting that freight railroads “pay for their own infrastructure with little to no taxpayer support,” he writes that they became successful after smart policy decisions reversed overregulation.

“Freed to make their own business decisions, freight railroads cut costs and improved service, churning more than $660 billion back into the rail network since 1980. All that private-sector spending has given us the safest, most productive freight rail network in the world.

Freight rail’s user-pays approach, in concert with thoughtful public-sector funding (for example public-private partnerships), offers a sustainable way out of our infrastructure deficit.”

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