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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is calling on Congress to implement a federal gas tax increase and a user-based fee system in an effort to ensure the Highway Trust Fund's financial viability.The recommendations are part of the association's national infrastructure priorities this year, which AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Jefferies outlined prior to testifying before Congress earlier this week, according to The Signal, an AAR newsletter.Among the AAR's recommendations is to re-instill "user-pay funding" to support the Highway Trust Fund. To do that, the AAR wants Congress to increase the federal gas tax; devise and implement a user-based fee system that accounts for all highway users' impacts on infrastructure; and reject certain shippers' overtures to allow for longer and heavier trucks on the nation's highways. In addition to increasing the Highway Trust Fund's revenue sources, the AAR wants Congress to:• maintain a balanced structure of economic regulation;• streamline the infrastructure project permitting process;• promote and support public-private partnerships such as the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency, or CREATE, program; and• support the Section 130 program to improve grade crossings.Jefferies unveiled the AAR's infrastructure priorities before speaking to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which held a hearing Feb. 13 on the nation's infrastructure needs. A copy of his testimony is available here.To learn more about the rail industry's legislative priorities for the new Congress, read the cover story in this month's issue of Progressive Railroading.