Clarence Anthony, CEO of the National League of Cities. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

Promising experiments with autonomous vehicles won’t go anywhere unless the U.S. figures out how to repair today’s broken infrastructure.

The big picture: Roads, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure in the U.S. received a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2017. The Trump administration and both parties in Congress agree infrastructure is a bipartisan issue, but they've made no progress in passing legislation.

What they're saying: At an Axios event I moderated yesterday in D.C., all four panelists — two members of Congress and two lobbyists — said roads and bridges need repair, but no one seemed sure how to pay for it.

  • Money authorized in 2015 for the short-term Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, runs out in 2020.
  • The Highway Trust Fund, which had been a stable source of road funding for decades, can't be sustained by the federal gas tax if the country is shifting to electric vehicles.
  • Motorists could be taxed for vehicle miles traveled instead, but that raises privacy concerns, noted D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.
“Policymakers need to take a step back and look at our funding structure ... we can't just rely on a gas tax. That's like funding your 401k with one stock that you know is going to go down.”
— Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)

Meanwhile, urban planners just want them to get on with it so they can keep up with changing technology.

  • “We have to take care of basic infrastructure while we also look at the flashy new technology coming," said Clarence Anthony, CEO of the National League of Cities. "Imagine AV systems being built on bad roads."
  • "Other countries are moving ahead pretty dramatically in this space," agreed Shailen Bhatt, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. "We entered the 21st Century at the top of the heap, but you don’t just stay there."

What to watch: After more than a year of inaction, President Trump and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle appear willing to start working together on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which could be considered by House committees as early as May.

Go deeper ... Hakeem Jeffries: Passing an infrastructure package is possible

Go deeper

Coronavirus hotspots begin to improve

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections are falling or holding steady in most of the country, including the hard-hit hotspots of Arizona, California and Florida.

The big picture: A decline in new infections is always good news, but don't be fooled: the U.S. still has a very long way to go to recover from this summer's surge.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 18,814,178 — Total deaths: 707,754— Total recoveries — 11,361,953Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 4,823,891 — Total deaths: 158,256 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed casesFauci calls U.S. coronavirus testing delays "totally unacceptable."
  4. Business: America's next housing crisis.
  5. States: Virginia launches contact tracing app using specs from Apple and Google.
  6. Cities: L.A. mayor authorizes utilities shut-off at homes hosting large gatherings
  7. Politics: White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks.
2 hours ago - World

Hiroshima mayor warns of rise of nationalism on 75th anniversary of bombing

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) at the Memorial Cenotaph in the Peace Memorial Park during the 75th anniversary service for atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima, Japan, on Thursday. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday urged the international community to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and warned against an increase in "self-centered nationalism," per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: He said at a remembrance service on the atomic bombing of the Japanese city that the 1918 flu pandemic killed millions as countries fighting in World War I were unable to overcome the threat together, per DPR. "A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II," he added. The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki three days later contributed to the end of World War II, but tens of thousands of people died.