Senate EPW Committee’s new transportation bill is well received by modal groups

This bill has been welcomed with open arms by a few key freight transportation and logistics stakeholders that have been clamoring for a new bill.

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In our online news section yesterday, this headline appeared: “Senate EPW Committee takes a big swing at new surface transportation authorization.”

The big swing part of that rings considerably true, considering that, if the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 is signed into law, the five-year $287 bill would represent a 27% increase over current FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act levels. 

But aside from the term and financial tally, there is a lot to like about this bill, which really does appear to be entering “now or never” territory, considering that we are a bit more than a year out from the September 30, 2020 expiration of the FAST Act, which is getting closer by the day, with, as mentioned yesterday, the possibility of a series of short-term extensions to keep funding intact for however long, until a deal on a new bill is reached, welcomed by nobody. We have been through more of those than can be mentioned at this point.

I won’t go into the details of the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019. You can check them out here.

But I thought it is worth noting that this bill has been well received by a few key freight transportation and logistics stakeholders that have been clamoring for a new bill. 

Take the Washington, DC-based Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, for example.

“We’re very pleased by the EPW Committee’s surface transportation authorization proposal, in particular, the Committee’s call for increased funding dedicated to freight through the INFRA program as well as the freight formula program. These funding levels are unprecedented, as is the Committee’s call for flexibility in allowing increased investment across all freight modes. CAGTC has championed robust, dedicated, and flexible freight funding since our establishment in 2001,” stated CAGTC Executive Director Elaine Nessle. “As the reauthorization bill moves forward, we look forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee to ensure these freight funding provisions become law.”

Modal interests also expressed encouragement, too.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear said the strength of the economy relies on sound roads and bridges, as more than 70% of U.S. goods travel by highway on the back of trucks.

“With the right investment, we can stem America's deepening infrastructure crisis and instead achieve a 21st century infrastructure worthy of the world's leading economy,” he said. “We look forward to working closely with this committee and the other relevant committees on a legislative package that includes the long-term, sustainable funding that our highway programs critically need." 

And the ATA’s freight rail counterpart, the Association of American Railroads was also pleased with the introduction of the bill.

“The rail industry commends Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper and the rest of the Senate EPW Committee for their leadership in beginning to address the U.S. surface transportation system,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “We particularly welcome efforts by lawmakers to further streamline project permitting by codifying the ‘one federal decision’ model, avoid measures that would exacerbate modal inequities and support the Section 130 program to improve safety at highway-rail grade crossings. We look forward to working with the rest of Congress as this proposal moves forward, including most critically to ensure that any final legislation is supported by real user fees.”

While this bill has a long way to go to get to the finish line, it has a solid foundation and strong support across various key parts of the supply chain. We know things can take more than a while to come to fruition in Washington, so hopefully this bill can move a bit faster than what unfortunately has become standard operating procedure.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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