Cadet Discusses Future Road Funding at VMI
LEXINGTON, Va., April 6, 2022—Henry Ford’s Model T became a widely accessible and affordable automobile for the average American in 1920. At that time, people began to travel less by railroad as they increasingly drove their cars to their destinations. Roads for cars began to be built and funding for constructing the roads was needed.
Most modern highways and roads are primarily funded through taxes paid at the gas pump, but with the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles, how will roads be funded in the future? Drew P. Melusen ’22 proposed alternative solutions in his senior thesis at Virginia Military Institute, “The Future of American Road Infrastructure Funding,” during Honors Week, held March 21-31.
Melusen stated that the gas tax is inadequate to fully fund road construction and repair throughout the country, causing massive budget deficits. With electric vehicle sales increasing annually and projected that by year 2050, half of cars on the road will be powered by electricity, he reported that the deficits will dramatically increase unless alternative ways of funding are implemented.
Melusen recommended that registration and user fees should be implemented for electric vehicles. He believes a truck mileage tax should be considered to supplement the fuel tax deficits. He also recommends the continuation of competitive bidding for road construction projects and the development of best practices for efficient spending of limited tax dollars.
Melusen’s parents, Gary and Catherine, of Bristow, Virginia, were in attendance for the presentation. They stated proudly, “Drew chose to attend VMI because of its reputation as an excellent institution of higher learning and because he wanted to be challenged. He has done well at VMI and it has been a great experience for him.”
Melusen is majoring in civil engineering and is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. After graduating in May, Melusen will pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Virginia. While at UVA, he will work as a graduate research assistant for the Virginia Transportation Research Council, which is part of the Virginia Department of Transportation. In spring of 2023, he will commission into the Air Force and begin training as a combat systems officer.
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