ATA advocates national focus to improve freight mobility

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Congress should shift the Federal Surface Transportation Program’s mission to focus on freight mobility as a national goal, Randall J. Clifford, chairman of Ventura Transfer Co. of Long Beach, Calif., said during a congressional field hearing in Los Angeles Friday, Feb. 20.

“Addressing bottlenecks along major freight corridors is critical to the success of our nation’s supply chain,” Clifford said during the hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; its Highways and Transit Subcommittee; and its Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. “It’s our belief the federal government must provide the leadership and resources necessary to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of goods on the nation’s highway system.” The hearing addressed freight challenges in Southern California.

Speaking on behalf of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Clifford outlined the creation of a new Freight Corridors Initiative (FCI) as a part of the new surface transportation bill. Potentially funded by an increase in the federal diesel fuel tax, the FCI would focus resources on congestion reduction projects on nationally significant highway freight corridors.

“Seven of the worst 35 highway bottlenecks are located in Southern California,” said Clifford. “The time to act is now. Together these seven bottlenecks caused trucks more than 6.8 million hours of delay in 2006, at a cost of $571 million.”

A study recently prepared for the Federal Highway Administration estimated that our nation’s worst 326 bottlenecks caused the trucking industry 226 million hours of delay in 2006. Using newly available operational cost data, it can be determined that the direct financial cost to the industry and its customers from these delays is about $19 billion per year.

In addition, Clifford urged Congress to continue the SAFETEA-LU truck-parking pilot program to meet the growing demand for accessible, safe places for trucks to park, and to ensure that trucks with 53-foot trailers have access to interstate highways.