ARTBA’s Digital Campaign on Highway Trust Fund Hitting the Mark

by Mark Holan

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Daniel Alvarez, finance manager at Virginia-based Transurban, typically isn’t active on social media, or buttonholing his elected officials.

But he couldn’t resist the chance to join a new digital campaign that allows ARTBA members and their supporters to connect with their members of Congress through email, Twitter and Facebook. The outreach took only minutes, just a few taps on their smart phone and tablets.

The Phone2Action digital platform was unveiled at ARTBA’s Federal Issues Program & Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In, April 13-15, in the Nation’s Capital. It is part of a sustained effort by ARTBA to urge federal lawmakers to fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which, on average, is the source of more than 52 percent of highway and bridge capital investments made annually by state governments.

The current federal highway/transit funding authorization expires on May 31 unless Congress takes action, and the next HTF cash crisis could occur later this summer. Congress was continuing to discuss possible legislative actions as this issue went to press.

Within minutes of downloading the Phone2Action platform, Alvarez and other meeting attendees were sending messages to the two U.S. Senators of their home state and the appropriate U.S. Representative, based on their home ZIP code. As they did so, electronic pins dropped on a map of the nation projected on a meeting room wall, showing where the messages were coming from.

“It was very new to me, and it was very rewarding,” Alvarez said. “It was an easy way to reach out to the relevant people.”

With 90 percent of Americans owning cell phones and nearly 75 percent using social media, along with the fact that all 100 U.S. senators and 97 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives have Twitter and Facebook accounts, the platform makes it easy to drive home messages about the need to fix the HTF and pass a long-term transportation bill.

ARTBA will continue to utilize the Phone2Action platform as Congress debates how to fund road, bridge and public transit improvement projects. Within a week of launching the campaign, more than 1,455 emails, tweets and Facebook postings were sent to members of Congress, underscoring popular support for sensible transportation funding solutions.

Alvarez and others also made old-fashioned personal visits to their members of Congress during the Fly-In, and ARTBA continues to pursue other strategies to keep pressure on lawmakers to fix the HTF.

The digital campaign uses the hashtag #fixthetrustfund. It is accessible at Information about the campaign also is being made available through an instant alert text messaging system, which can be accessed by texting HIGHWAY to 52886.

Mark Holan is ARTBA editorial director.

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