NASSTRAC earlier this month commended members of the House and Senate conference committee for their work in passing a highway bill that lays a foundation addressing America's need for adequate freight transportation infrastructure. NASSTRAC has been a vocal supporter of a long-term highway plan and appropriate funding, and had been urging Congress to enact a bill that funds badly needed infrastructure construction and maintenance at no less than MAP-21 levels. Along with various filings and formal letters to House and Senate conference committees, NASSTRAC had led two fly-ins to Washington that resulted in dozens of meetings between shippers and members of Congress, with infrastructure being a topic of primary concern.
"NASSTRAC has placed a significant emphasis on the topic of infrastructure over the past few years," says Mike Regan, chairman of NASSTRAC's advocacy committee. "While this highway bill does not include everything we wanted, it lays a foundation for future improvements to our nation's freight transportation infrastructure. On behalf of NASSTRAC, I thank Chairmen Mica and Boxer, and all the conferees for putting partisanship aside and developing a compromise bill that will benefit shippers, the trucking industry, our economy, and our country overall. We now urge President Obama to quickly sign this critical legislation."
Regan pointed out that one area where the bill falls short is in the area of truck productivity. NASSTRAC had urged the conference committee to incorporate provisions that would improve motor carrier productivity, including enabling states to allow longer and heavier trailers, consistent with safety and highway wear and tear in order to accommodate increased demand without needlessly increasing the number of trucks on roadways. "While there are many positive aspects to this new highway bill, NASSTRAC is disappointed that instead of addressing this in the legislation, there is a provision which calls for a two-year study on the heavier truck issue," says Regan. "Substantively speaking, this legislation does not address truck productivity, which is important to shippers relying on over-the-road freight transportation. By giving into fear-based misinformation, this bill unfortunately delays the deployment of some of the trucking industry's safest, most fuel-efficient trucks. Past studies have shown time and again that modest increases in truck size and weight limits have a net positive effect on highway safety and maintenance."