On Thursday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented “The Future of Our Nation’s Infrastructure and What it Means for Trucking and the Economy” at the Fourth Annual Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference. The presentation was made by Drew Preston, manager of congressional and public affairs for the Chamber, moderator Tom Lehner, and the public policy vice president of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturer’s Association. According to the speakers, neither Congress or the White House is willing to do anything to address the problems in our transportation infrastructure.
The United States has about 600,000 highway and Interstate bridges, 150,000 of which are in serious need of repairs. Like the I-5 bridge that collapsed in the state of Washington earlier this year, these bridges pose a threat to transportation of goods, business commerce, and human life. It would take about $140 billion to get started on these projects, yet the Highway Trust Fund which is supposed to pay for these maintenance and repair issues is seriously underfunded. Currently, the fund spends about $15 billion more than it gets from the federal government.
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), signed in July 2012, was supposed to fix some of the funding issues, yet it lasts for just two years and isn’t a viable solution for our infrastructure issues over the long-term. The president remains more concerned with the environment and use of fuel than providing a way to continue commercial and private transportation, according to the speakers.
Preston said that these problems are just the, “tip of the iceberg,” and that even more budgetary problems will plague the industry heading into the fall of this year. The speakers stressed the importance of truckers and carriers to make sure their voice is heard as debates on the budget and funding transportation and other necessary items continues. Congress is currently on break, but will resume conversations on the budget when sessions resume in September.