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National Goods Movement Program Key to Future U.S. Global Competitiveness, ARTBA Tells Senate Panel

(Washington, D.C.)—Massive, strategic transportation infrastructure investments by China, India and the European Union pose a serious threat to future ...

May 09, 2008

(Washington, D.C.)—Massive, strategic transportation infrastructure investments by China, India and the European Union pose a serious threat to future U.S. economic strength and competitiveness in the global marketplace, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said during a May 8 Senate hearing on goods movements on the nation’s highways.

To meet this challenge and manage the expected doubling of U.S. truck traffic in the next 25 years, "America needs a federally led program aimed at improving the safe and efficient movement of freight," ARTBA Senior Vice Chairman Charlie Potts told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "The 2009 highway authorization bill provides the best opportunity in more than 50 years to chart a new course for the future of America’s highway and transit systems. A national goods movement plan should be a major component of a new federal transportation vision."

Potts, CEO of Indianapolis-based Heritage Construction and Materials, cited two U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) reports that show one-quarter of the economic activity in each state depends on the ability to move goods on a nationwide highway system, and highway bottlenecks cost the trucking industry $8 billion and 243 million hours of lost time annually. As such, efficient freight movement is critical for all states and warrants a national solution, Potts said.

He shared with the committee’s ARTBA’s legislative proposals for the 2009 bill, which call for initiation of a long-term national construction priority—the "Critical Commerce Corridors" (3C) goods movement program—to add new infrastructure capacity to our national transportation network.

Under the ARTBA plan, the U.S. DOT would be charged with bringing the public and private sectors together to develop a strategic business plan, identify projects for development on a regional basis, set completion priorities and establish cost estimates.

Potts said the 3C should be financed outside the Highway Trust Fund, with new freight-related user fees. "The concept of user fee financing for transportation programs has proven to be an effective and stable source of revenue for long-term projects. We should build on this successful model in developing a national freight program."

In addition to 3C and as part of the 2009 bill, Congress should also significantly boost investment in the core highway and transit programs to shore up an aging infrastructure, the ARTBA senior vice chairman noted.

Established in 1902, ARTBA represents the U.S. transportation design and construction industry in the Nation’s Capital.

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