Transportation Policy: The Realities of Freight, U.S. Economy

Thank you Bill Graves, president of the American Trucking Associations, for contributing to the National Journal’s “Experts: Transportation” blog discussion of motorized versus non-motorized traffic. As noted below, the National Journal sought responses to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s recent pronouncement of “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

Graves’ post:

I’m in full agreement with the National Association of Manufacturers, who said on their Shopfloor blog last week that “treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe.” Such a policy will negate any effort the Administration has made to create jobs and will hinder the movement of our nation’s goods. As we work to emerge from these difficult economic times, we need policies that promote the safe, efficient movement of goods. The Administration’s major policy revision will be particularly detrimental if it diverts Highway Trust Fund dollars from critical expansion and repair projects that will help use meet national goals.

The National Highway System connects all parts of our transportation system, facilitating the movement of virtually all goods throughout the country. America relies on trucks to move 70 percent of our nation’s freight tonnage and the trucking industry is forecast to move an even greater share of freight in the future. Highways will continue to play a vital role in our nation’s supply chain. However, America’s aging infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and expansion. Congestion costs, caused by inefficiencies in the system, are rapidly approaching $100 billion annually. The federal government must focus on funding projects that alleviate freight bottlenecks. Failing to address growing congestion problems will cause costs to rise, translating into higher consumer prices and slower job growth, weakening the United States’ ability to compete in the global economy.

I understand that Secretary LaHood and the Administration are adamant about creating livable communities that promote the use of non-motorized transportation. However, these communities will not be livable without an efficient highway system and trucks to deliver the food, medicine, clothing and other necessities that make walking and bicycling possible.

Thanks for the mention, Governor. Agreed completely.

We add one other point: The Executive Branch, including Secretary LaHood, does not make policy. In the American system, the policymaking branch of the federal government is Congress.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Heather says:

    Completely disagree with this. I hate this car-centric thinking that got us into the trouble we’re in now where cities are spending millions and billions to go away from the stresses of relying on cars. Getting people away from this thinking will cause these spaces to open up…Otherwise, as you and your car-centric thinking buddies keep pushing for more highways, they will just fill up more and more if you do not provide alternative modes of transportation…Just look at Los Angeles…

  • Andrew says:

    “treating bicycles and other non-motorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe.”

    Bull. And you’re kidding yourself if you think putting in a new road for $1 million is going to be split evenly between laying the road and the bike path next to it. The road itself will always cost the majority, and will get the majority of funds, but now some of the money is going to go to make sure there’s some way for people (us non-motorized transport) to actually get across the road or use it ourselves. Enough of roads being invisible walls that block everything but cars and trucks.

    Besides that, More transit options = Fewer cars = More room for trucks. This seems to be in your own best interest.

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