Both the national office and the St. Louis Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has given a thumb’s up to a proposal to increase the gas tax as a means of both reducing the federal deficit and improving the nation's transportation infrastructure .

The federal motor fuels tax generates revenues that are reserved for investment in highway and public transportation improvements through the Highway Trust Fund. This tax, however, has not been adjusted since 1993, ASCE noted, and has lost one-third of its purchasing power over the last 17 years.

The Highway Trust Fund has become insolvent in recent years and has required multiple emergency transfers from the General Fund. The current proposal from President Obama’s Deficit Commission includes a 15-cent increase in the gas tax beginning in 2013 as well as eliminating transfers from the General Fund.

"St. Louis's economic future depends on a functioning infrastructure, and unfortunately over recent decades, we have allowed these critical systems to decline," said Adam Spector, president of ASCE's St. Louis Section. "Investing in infrastructure creates jobs and supports our quality of life, and doing so by increasing the federal gas tax will not only improve our roads, bridges and transit systems, but will also help reduce the federal deficit."

ASCE's 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure assigned the nation's infrastructure an overall grade of D, with bridges, roads and transit receiving grades of C, D- and D, respectively. It also contended that an investment of $2.2 trillion over the next five years is necessary to bring those grades up to an acceptable level.

According to the St. Louis Section of ASCE, 31% of the roads in Missouri are in poor or mediocre condition and 30% of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Missouri motorists $380 each year in wasted time and fuel, the group noted.