Taxonomy: Infrastructure

Alliances call for removal of non-highway funding limits

Witnesses gave the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety a variety of recommendations to improve intermodal infrastructure.

Alliances call for removal of non-highway funding limits

Witnesses gave the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety a variety of recommendations to improve intermodal infrastructure.

Alliances call for removal of non-highway funding limits

Witnesses gave the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety a variety of recommendations to improve intermodal infrastructure.

 
Limits on non-highway project grant funds should be eliminated to help invest in intermodal infrastructure improvements, witnesses said Tuesday during a Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety hearing.
    “I would simply say with the point of the INFRA program being to solve our nation’s freight challenges, which are numerous and many, and in a world of finite resources, to us, it doesn’t make sense to limit the program unnecessarily to one mode,” said Chuck Baker, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, near the conclusion of the hearing titled, “Connecting America: Examining Intermodal Connections Across Our Surface Transportation Network.”
    “I would say that’s especially true in an era where these programs are no longer being funded 100 percent by highway user fees,” he added.
    In the most recent round, the INFRA program saw $12 in requests for every $1 that was available, said Joseph Szabo, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, who was representing the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors.
    In addition to eliminating the cap on non-highway spending, Szabo said “$12 billion annually in multimodal freight investments through a competitive program is needed.
   “Freight doesn’t move on highways alone,” he said. “We have to invest in the very best projects that bring the greatest results to the public regardless of mode. Simply where public benefit is derived, investment should be made.”
    Both Szabo and Noel Hacegaba, who was representing the Intermodal Association of North America, voiced support of adding a multimodal freight office within the U.S. Department of Transportation. The total cost to meet the nation’s freight infrastructure needs is estimated at $3.7 trillion and U.S. businesses spend an additional $27 billion each year due to congestion and outdated facilities, Hacegaba said.
    The multimodal office would provide a broad and holistic view of the overall needs of the intermodal supply chain, they said.
    “When it comes to the intermodal freight network, we need to ensure that the last mile, the first mile and every mile in between is adequately funded so that that supply chain is seamless,” said Hacegaba, the deputy executive director of administration and operations at the Port of Long Beach. “We believe that having that office at that level would bring attention to the funding needs and the infrastructure to go with the needs.”   
   Hacegaba also said the Port of Long Beach recently conducted a pilot using General Electric’s Port Optimizer, and similar emerging technologies can be used to improve data transfer, transparency and predictability between modes.
    “This advanced visibility can benefit the entire intermodal supply chain and it comes at a critical time as we face increased competition from ports in Canada and Mexico where the respective governments have developed national strategies and the freight stakeholders there are aggressively working to attract more cargo moving to and from the U.S. markets,” he said.
    Baker said the Short Line Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which was enacted in 2004 and has been renewed six times through 2017, should become permanent to help short line railroads meet their investment needs. Congress also should continue to examine and eliminate unnecessary federal regulations, he said.
    “Unnecessary regulations divert precious financial resources from track rehabilitation, and that rehabilitation is the best way to improve railroad safety,” he said.
    Donna Lemm, executive vice president of IMC Companies, who was representing the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, spoke about the problems the country’s ag and forest industries face. From scheduling and congestion issues to a shortage of containers, the industries face a variety of challenges daily, she said.
   “There’s nothing that we produce here in agricultural and forest product shipments that cannot be sourced elsewhere in the world,” she said. “If we cannot deliver affordably and dependably to our customer in Asia and Europe and around the world, someone else will, and getting those customers back is nearly impossible. All over the country we’re faced with bottlenecks, delays and handcuffs in our ability to execute within the supply chain.”
    The shortage of chassis in terms of quality, safety, fair access and accountability is another challenge the industries face. Three outside firms own the vast majority of the nation’s chassis fleet, which has resulted in no accountability for provision of adequate quantity and quality, she said.
    “The problem was so critical in Memphis that we came together to form a Memphis innovation supply chain team,” which brought stakeholders together to find actionable resolve, Lemm said.
    She said a single gray pool with interoperability would immediately increase supply.
    “If there’s chassis there, let’s use them. We’re asking for fair access to them,” Lemm said. “Today that handcuff — having to pick red, purple or yellow — doesn’t make sense, not fair if we’re paying the price. Also not fair in those mounted facilities when those trains come in, if that proper chassis was designated by the ocean carrier to use isn’t there, those containers go to the ground.”
Last year was one of the most unpredictable the container shipping industry has faced, and this year is likely to be similarly volatile with question marks still hanging over the U.S.-China trade war and new fuel regulations. However, despite being dogged by uncertainty, Drewry is predicting another solid year for the market.

The Port of New York and New Jersey handled 622,531 TEUs in January, which marked a 6.3 percent year-over-year increase.

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Alliances call for removal of non-highway funding limits

Witnesses gave the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety a variety of recommendations to improve intermodal infrastructure.

Feb 27, 2019 on Dec 27, 2018AmericanShipper.com

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Alliances call for removal of non-highway funding limits

Witnesses gave the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety a variety of recommendations to improve intermodal infrastructure.

Feb 27, 2019 on Dec 27, 2018AmericanShipper.com