Barbara Windsor, president and chief executive officer of Hahn Transportation Inc, and chairman of American Trucking Associations, told members of the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit that the trucking industry needs Congress to quickly pass a new surface transportation bill with a focus on highways.
“A safe, efficient system of highways is essential to our country’s economic well-being, security, and overall quality of life,” Windsor said. “Every day, freight flows through our ports, across our borders, and on our rail, highway, air, and waterway systems as part of a global multimodal transportation logistics system. Highways are the key to this system.”
Windsor said trucks move 70% of the nation’s freight. However, she said “our current highway system no longer meets our needs.”
“Incremental solutions will not allow us to meet the nation’s current and future transportation requirements,” Windsor said. “While we know that Congress is not receptive to a fuel tax increase, we would like the record to reflect that the trucking industry is willing to accept a fuel tax increase to help fund infrastructure.”
However, Windsor said that in addition to a possible fuel increase, the next authorization should fund non-highway items like transit from the General Fund, rather than with fuel tax receipts, and should maintain the prohibition on tolls on currently untolled interstates.
“Tolls are a very inefficient means of revenue collection, and they cause diversion of traffic to alternative routes which are usually less safe and were not built to handle the additional traffic,” she said.
Whatever funds the next authorization does generate should be used to address “critical bottlenecks on heavily traveled freight corridors,” Windsor said.
She also urged Congress to allow for more efficient use of highways “through the use of more productive trucks,” which can improve safety, lower shipping costs, save fuel, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the public’s investment in highways.
“Congress must reform its laws to give states greater flexibility to change their size and weight regulations, with oversight by the US Department of Transportation,” she said.
Finally, Windsor said the committee should look at “innovative and effective” safety programs, such as the ones advocated by ATA’s progressive safety agenda like the creation of a drug and alcohol clearinghouse, limiting speed, and promoting active safety technologies that lower risk and prevent crashes.