April 18, 2014 10:35:03 AM
JACKSON -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says that during an eight-state bus trip, he's experiencing what other Americans feel on highways every day.
"There are a lot of bumps. There are a few pot holes here and there," Foxx said Thursday during a stop in Mississippi. "You know, it's been a terrible winter in terms of the wear and tear on our road systems."
Foxx is traveling this week to promote President Barack Obama's proposal to keep federal transportation money flowing to states at least four more years. The Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of cash before the federal budget year ends Sept. 30. Congress put money in the trust fund in 2012 by making some tax changes and cutting spending that's not related to transportation.
Uncertainty over federal funding could make some state and local officials wary about starting big, expensive highway or bridge projects.
Obama is proposing a four-year, $302 billion plan to reinforce the trust fund with savings from proposed changes to corporate tax laws. The White House says that up to $150 billion could come from its proposal to close corporate loopholes, such as ones that encourage U.S. companies to invest overseas.
Foxx appeared Thursday at Tougaloo College in Jackson, meeting with lawmakers and Mississippi Department of Transportation officials to discuss roads and bridges. He was joined by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who said he's optimistic that Congress will agree on a way to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.
"Everybody that I've talked to supports a good, sound transportation system," Thompson said. "We just need to make sure that the vehicle that provides for that safe and sound system continues."
Speaking of the rough condition of some highways, Foxx said: "It highlights, again, the fact that our maintenance needs are expanding as a country and we're not keeping pace with them. So even doing better with what we have is becoming a challenge in America right now."
Foxx started the bus tour in Ohio and has been to Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. His final stops are in Louisiana and Texas.