A U.S. House of Representatives' panel established this year to identify ways to improve freight transportation efficiency in the United States toured FedEx's main air hub and the Port of Memphis as it gathers information to make recommendations for the next surface transportation reauthorization bill next year.
The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation is chaired by Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn. Other members on the trip were Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Rick Crawford, R-Ariz.; Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.; Daniel Webster, R-Fla.; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.
The panel visited the FedEx Express campus in Memphis to better understand how public and private infrastructure and the company's information technology systems help lower the company's costs. The tour included training facilities for air cargo pilots and the giant system of automated conveyors FedEx uses to sort packages from around the world.
FedEx Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Smith testified before the panel two months ago in Washington about challenges experienced by freight transportation companies due to inadequate road and airport infrastructure.
The panel received a briefing on inland waterways following its tour of the Port of Memphis. Inland water ports such as Memphis primarily handle bulk cargo.
The panel recently visited the giant port complex in Southern California to learn about container ports.
After touring the Port of Memphis, the delegation traveled to West Memphis, Ark., to meet with various representatives of the Arkansas and Tennessee transportation and business communities about freight transportation challenges. - Eric Kulisch