Sen. Carper Wants an Increase in Federal Gas Tax as Deadline Loo - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sen. Carper Wants an Increase in Federal Gas Tax as Deadline Looms

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware's senior US senator is renewing a push to increase the federal gas tax.

Sen. Tom Carper has been calling for an increase in the federal gas tax for a number of years. He first started floating the increase idea in 2010.

Four years later carper is pointing to a serious looming problem as the reason to hike the tax now. The problem is that the federal Highway Trust Fund is scheduled to go broke later this summer.

Theo Hudson, of Townsend, paid more than $3.50 a gallon to fill her gas tank Monday morning just south of Dover. She doesn't like the idea of the federal gas tax going up, which would mean she'd have to pay more.

"The gas prices go up during the holidays, summertime. Nobody wants to pay it, nor does anyone else," she said.

But the Highway Trust Fund is going broke. It helps pay for scores of highway projects nationwide.

"I think people realize if we want things, good roads, highways, bridges, we have to pay for them," said Sen. Carper. "The idea of forever buying more and more money - we can't do that."

Carper says while a short-term solution is under discussion, the long-term solution is raise the gas tax. He's proposing four cents a year over three years, which would come to 12 cents total. Then the gas tax would increase with inflation. It would raise billions of dollars for road projects.
The last time the gas tax went up was 1993 to just about 18 cents.

"The purchasing power of the gas tax is not 18 cents anymore. It's a dime," Carper said.

But a divided Congress seems unlikely to pass this proposed tax hike. Even lawmakers in Delaware's heavily Democratic state legislature totally balked this year at Gov. Jack Markell's proposal to raise the state's gas tax 10 cents to fund road projects.

"Ten cents scares a lot of people," said Speaker of the House, Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, after the legislative session ended early the morning of July 1. "It scares the public. They were reacting to what the public was telling them."

So, the idea of 12 cents isn't going over well with a lot of drivers either.

"I don't like it," said Mike Weller, of Wyoming. "But they're going to do what they want to do. They haven't done anything for me in the past twelve years."

"The gas prices are totally ridiculous, totally," Hudson said.

Sen. Carper's office says if the Highway Trust Fund does go broke in August, a whole mess of projects could grind to a halt. A list of some of those affecting Delaware is below.

Projects currently under construction (amount of FY 15 federal funds at risk):
·         SR 26 ($11.6M) - widening
·         SR1/I-95 Interchange ($5.0M)
·         US 9 Projects ($4.2M) – safety improvements between Georgetown and Lewes
·         I- 95 & I- 495 Interstate Bridge Maintenance ($4.0M)
·         Bridge replacement 1-665N/S on US 13 ($3.7M)
·         I-95 & US 202 Interchange ($2.9M) -
·         US 13, Seaford Intersection Improvements ($2.9M)
·         SR2, South Union Street road improvements ($2.2M)

Projects ready to go out for bids:
·         West Dover Connector - linking east side of the state capital to western suburbs ($14.6M)
·         SR1 Pedestrian Improvements in Lewes and Rehoboth  Beach ($7.4M)
·         Plantations Road/Cedar Grove Road/Postal Lane Intersection Improvements in Lewes / Rehoboth Beach ($7.1M)
·         I-95/SR141 Interchange ($5M)
·         Bridge replacement 1-159 on James Street ($2.4M)
·         Howell School Road ($1.3M)
·         Road A/SR7 ($1.1M)
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