Issue Brief: The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials Act of 2015

The Issue

ASLA supports legislation that will increase available monies in the Highway Trust Fund by increasing the gas tax. Revenue from the gas tax will help pay for our nation’s surface transportation projects, including active transportation projects like pedestrian sidewalks, bicycle paths and trails, streetscapes, and others.

Background & Analysis

On February 3, 2015, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR) introduced H.R. 680, The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act of 2015. This measure would phase in 5 cents per gallon tax increase over each of the next three years on gasoline and diesel fuels.

The nation’s infrastructure is deteriorating. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure rated America’s infrastructure a D+ and estimated that $3.6 trillion will be needed for investments in our infrastructure by the year 2020.

Our nation’s federal transportation programs, including the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), is funded through the Highway Trust Fund. Currently, the Highway Trust Fund is funded through an 18.3 cents per gallon gas tax, which has not been increased since 1993. Because Congress did not index the gas tax to inflation, it has not kept up with transportation costs and spending. Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year 2015 – around mid-September 2015. If passed, The UPDATE Act would provide $210 billion over ten years, which would help fix our aging transportation infrastructure and stabilize funding without increasing the federal deficit.

The bill is supported by a broad coalition of business, labor, transportation, and infrastructure organizations, including: the Amalgamated Transit Union; American Automobile Association; American Council of Engineering Companies; American Public Transportation Association; American Road & Transportation Builders Association; Laborers’ International Union of North America; League of American Bicyclists; Transportation for America; and others.


Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR) and co-sponsors

Current Status

The Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials Act of 2015 (H.R. 680) was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 3, 2015, and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, where it is awaiting further action.


The UPDATE Act (H.R. 3636) was first introduced during the 113th Congress on December 3, 2013. The 113th Congress expired before any action was taken on the measure.


U.S. Department of Transportation Highway Trust Fund Ticker
Floor Statement of Rep. Blumenauer on the UPDATE Act, Congressional Record, February 3, 2015
Press Statement “Blumenauer Reintroduces Gas Tax Increase”
The Bowles-Simpson “Chairmen’s Mark” Deficit Reduction Plan

Related ASLA Policies

Transportation Corridors & Facilities  


ASLA Government Affairs