Like a hungry group eyeing a delicious pie, stakeholders in the transportation sector are anticipating big moves from Congress and the administration, and they all want their fair share.
To this end, the 115th Congress has had a busy start with several hearings focused on modernizing our country’s infrastructure. Up last week was a panel of executives from transportation companies who testified before members of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. While most of the discussion focused on inland supply chain issues, a common theme from witnesses was that future plans should include direct federal investment. Mr. Matthew Rose (Executive Chairman, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway) urged the importance of “modal equality” in federal spending, such as spreading revenue from gas taxes to include modes of transportation other than highways. Mr. Tom Gurd (Vice President, Integrated Supply Chain, Dow Chemical Company) echoed this idea while also touching on the importance of marine infrastructure. His company ships 11 billion pounds of cargo annually via marine transportation (with the “most significant” growth in the Gulf Coast). Mr. Gurd also stressed that the Department of Transportation should not consider imposing regulatory actions without also advancing safety, specifically in maintaining uniform national standards for hazardous material transport. Though no plans have been released from the administration, this issue has been increasingly in the news on the West Coast where severe winter storms are wreaking havoc on old infrastructure.