Trucking Big Shots at Senate Subcommittee
Trucking industry representatives made their case for increased infrastructure spending in a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security on April 4.
Subcommittee Chair Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., began the hearing by acknowledging President Donald Trump’s stated plan for a major infrastructure package, and she added she supports using a portion of planned tax reform revenues to fund infrastructure investment.
She noted, though, “But as we think about infrastructure package, we should avoid falling into the trap of stimulus-style spending for its own sake. States know best their own transportation needs, not the federal government. And there’s no need to create a new program that works for various transportation projects in urban and rural states. We already have one.”
In his testimony, Derek J. Leathers president and CEO of Werner Enterprises, cited a number of problems with the nation’s aging infrastructure, and said congestion alone cost the trucking industry nearly $50 billion in 2014 and wasted over 728 million hours.
“It is important to note that 88% of National Highway System congestion occurred on only 18% of the network,” he said, stating attention should be given to addressing known bottlenecks. Funding for investment in highways, he said, could come in the form of “user fees on the beneficiaries of the system,” and he mentioned an increase in, and indexation of, the federal fuel tax as an example.
He voiced opposition to tolls on existing lanes of the Interstate System as well as mileage-based user fees. Summing up the topics covered during the hearing, American Trucking Associations (ATA) President and CEO Chris Spear said, “While infrastructure investment is a primary focus for ATA, [Leathers and FedEx Freight President and CEO Mike Ducker] did a tremendous job raising a number of significant issues during the hearing. 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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