ATA & CEOs Address Senate Committee on Infrastructure

By Eric G Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

We have discussed our nation’s infrastructure ad nauseam, and are the experts on the system, as no one spends more time and attention to detail on that of our infrastructure than the Road Warriors. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and with all the above factors in mind, the American Trucking Association (ATA) member companies, FedEx Freight, and Werner Enterprises, told Congress about the trucking industry’s urgent need for greater investment in our highway system.

FedEx Freight President and CEO Mike Ducker and Werner Enterprises President and CEO Derek Leathers both told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, that the U.S. must invest more in its roads and bridges so the trucking industry may continue to safely and efficiently move the nation’s goods.

 “ATA and its members are continuing to tell our story on Capitol Hill and at the White House about need to improve our nation’s roads and bridges,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Our industry currently loses nearly $50 billion annually to congestion – that is unacceptable. We must unclog our arteries and highways and make our infrastructure safer and more efficient by investing in our roads and bridges as Derek and Mike so eloquently told the Committee today.”

 “Without improved surface infrastructure and wise policy decisions from Washington, FedEx and other companies cannot continue to help grow the U.S. economy and increase jobs. The need for significant investment in our infrastructure has never been more critical,” In order to address these challenges, we must work together on policy and solutions that will modernize our surface transportation system and drive our economy forward.  Infrastructure investment cannot be limited to road and bridge improvements.  A holistic modern transportation system needs to be established combining physical and digital infrastructure enhancements with sound transportation policies, including incentives for improved safety and fuel efficiency.  And, of course, stable, and sustainable sources of funding for the Highway Trust Fund will be essential for success," Ducker said in his testimony.

“Congress should concentrate investment in major freight bottlenecks and congestion that hamper the efficient movement of both freight and passenger travel,” Leathers said in his testimony. “The additional mileage and congestion combined with high freight demands and insufficient truck parking continues to cause needless added stress and frustration to our driver workforce, and can take away from their focus on safely and efficiently delivering our nation's goods.”

 Our highways, bridges, and roads are the lifeblood of the trucking industry. Unfortunately, the current infrastructure system increasingly feels the strain of long-term underinvestment at all levels of government. Nearly one-third of major urban roadways are in substandard condition, and the average motorist in the United States is losing $523 annually -- $112 billion nationally -- in additional vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads that are in need of repair.3

 As our highway system ages, many bridges, including those on the Interstate System, are beginning to deteriorate to the point where they need major repairs or replacement. For example, nearly 7,000 bridges in New Jersey – 35% of the total – are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Approximately 4,000 state and local bridges in Mississippi are in need of repair or replacement. Without a significant increase in federal funding, states will find it very difficult to undertake these projects.

Leathers and Ducker also took the opportunity to raise many important issues with the Committee.

 “While infrastructure investment is a primary focus for ATA, Mike and Derek did a tremendous job raising many significant issues during the hearing,” Spear said. “From driver recruitment to the need for smarter regulations and the prospects for automated trucks, they did a remarkable job telling our story and representing this industry.”

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