Long Term Planning Needed to Build Future for Trucking and the Economy
By Dan Boaz
The overall importance of trucking, nationwide trucking companies, heavy haulage and hot shot trucking is never underestimated in terms of keeping the country working and our goods, equipment and resources delivered throughout the land. Therefore it never ceases to amaze me that the very foundations of trucking, our national highways, bridges and infrastructure all too often don't receive the long-term planning and investment that is so urgently required. What isn't in question that trucking is the oil within the engine of our economy and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the United States urgently needs a long-term highway and infrastructure bill and I couldn't agree more.
Foxx's recent message stresses that as a nation we're under-investing in our infrastructure and when you consider that the United States could add 100 million to our population by 2050 it's obvious that our current freight capacity needs serious expansion and improvement. For decades we've seen short-term planning and funding used to tackle the long term issues faced by nationwide trucking companies and decisions that then see the crucial targets keep moving further out of sight. Funding and failure to adopt a longer-term strategic vision are equally culpable in terms of where we now stand but whether or not Transportation Secretary Foxx change this, he certainly is attempting to do so.
Earlier this year he introduced a $302 billion four-year surface transportation bill that would use revenue from corporate tax reform rather than higher gas taxes to pay for more infrastructure improvements called the "GROW AMERICA" Act. The plan was to bring an additional $87 billion to fix bridges and transit systems, however within months Congress determined it didn't have time to find a long-term fix. Not being able to find time to resolve such matters only increases the size of the task and of course the cost to all of us. It's a good time to reflect on the stated mission of the Department of Transportation;
"Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future."
Highway construction at the junction of I-80 & I-65 in Indiana
In the meantime we tend to see short-term funding that only serve to address the loudest issues year after year, seemingly rectifying certain regional transport problems but inevitably bringing us no closer to the giant overhaul that the trucking industry and the nation at large requires. Also, as more and more decisions are being made at the state level we're fast heading toward a situation where the national highway system is only as reliable for the economy as the decisions made by the state that you happen to be in at the time, weak links are inevitable.
Determining how best to create and then fund a true national transportation bill will continue to be the task at hand but until this obstacle is properly overcome the future efficiency of our national transportation network and in turn the economy remains in the balance.
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