Concrete Suppliers Urge Congress to Fix Bad Roads, Float Road-Use Tax

America’s poor infrastructure is causing nearly $3 million in annual losses for one construction supplier, the company’s president said.

William Childs, CEO of Chaney Enterprises, whose trucks poured concrete for the Andrews Air Force Base, said each of the 280 concrete mixers in its fleet spends 82 hours in gridlock each year. In addition to lost time and nearly $400,000 in tires needed due to bad roads, Childs said the country’s crumbling infrastructure is making businesses like his less competitive.

Construction site

“We’ve got to get our products and services delivered,” he said. “We need not only to repair the roads, but we need roads where we don’t have roads right now. We need transportation systems where we don’t have transportation.”

The Northern American Concrete Alliance, an industry coalition of concrete associations representing businesses like Chaney, urged congressional leaders Monday to find a sustainable funding source for the Highway Trust Fund, which relies on the federal fuel tax. The tax has not been raised since 1993, though President Donald Trump told Bloomberg News he would consider increasing it.

Several industry leaders acknowledged the political challenge that comes with raising the fuel tax, but urged Congress to take the unpopular move for the sake of the country’s infrastructure.

“No one wants to raise taxes,” said Leif Wathne, executive vice president of the American Concrete Pavement Association. “It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that it’s not going to cost money.”

Childs said he would support a “use tax” rather than a fuel tax, so that the cost would fall more on large trucks like those in his fleet than on the car driven by the average motorist. 

“We’re willing to pay the increased fuel tax because it isn’t going to cost us $2.8 million a year,” Childs said. “It’s a good investment.”