Tag: Transportation

Timmons Testifies at Senate Infrastructure Hearing

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons today urged Congress to fulfill its well-established responsibility of facilitating commerce in the United States by returning to a fully-funded, multiyear surface transportation authorization.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Timmons highlighted the importance of the nation’s transportation network to manufacturers across the country, “Manufacturers rely on our nation’s vast interconnected network of roads, railways, airports, inland waterways and ports to support and supply every sector of the economy.”

Timmons was joined by a diverse group of panelists all advocating for a new surface transportation bill, including Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Mike Hancock of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and Dr. T. Peter Ruane of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

During his testimony, Timmons also highlighted a survey sponsored by the NAM and Building America’s Future that highlights manufacturers’ concerns about America’s roads and bridges, transit and aviation systems and ports. According to the survey of more than 400 manufacturers, a majority believe American infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting worse.

For NAM members, access to a reliable and cost-effective transportation network by land, sea and air is critical to reaching customers here and abroad. To view Timmons’ opening statement, click here. To view the entire hearing, click here.

 

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President Continues Commitment to Infrastructure; More Work Ahead and No Easy Solutions

The President has been a consistent advocate for increased investment in America’s infrastructure and we appreciate the President’s continued attention to the deteriorating condition of our roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, ports and inland waterways.  Like the President, manufacturers recognize that America’s infrastructure is resting on a legacy of past investments that have created great economic advantages and it is now time to reverse the deteriorating condition of our nation’s infrastructure.

This is not something that can be accomplished in a year, two years or even with a quick infusion of funding to supplement ongoing infrastructure investments. Manufacturers are eager for Congress and the Administration to work together to develop a long-term investment strategy that will make smart and strategic infrastructure investments designed to enhance our global competitiveness. While the NAM supports the President’s call to streamline environmental reviews and expedite infrastructure project delivery, the proposal to use savings from tax reform as a means to direct additional investments in infrastructure complicates efforts to overhaul our tax code and distracts from the goal of achieving a sustainable stream of funding for our nation’s surface transportation network.

Over the next few months, manufacturers encourage the President to engage in a robust conversation about long-term transportation funding by putting his Administration’s weight behind an effort to return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency and pass a traditional multiyear surface transportation authorization before September 30, 2014 when MAP-21 expires. These are priority issues for manufacturers and the surface transportation authorization currently offers the best and most efficient method for ensuring stable and continuous investments in roads, bridges and transit systems.

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Timmons Highlights Manufacturing Priorities on Infrastructure Panel

Today, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons joined other business leaders at the Infrastructure for the Future Summit, an event sponsored by NAM member company Volvo and the American Highway Users Alliance, which focused on the looming issues facing the nation’s infrastructure and specific challenges that threaten our economy.

JAY-VOLVO

Jay Timmons speaks on a panel at the the Infrastructure for the Future Summit. Photo by David Bohrer/NAM.

During a panel discussion with leaders from the American Association of State Highway & Transportation, the National Retail Federation, and Cowan Systems, Timmons highlighted the importance of infrastructure to manufacturers’ ability to grow and compete, noting that “infrastructure matters to manufacturers. I hear concerns about the state of our infrastructure from NAM members constantly and consistently, regardless of their size or sector. From the world’s largest multinationals to family businesses up and down Main Streets all across America, everyone recognizes that our aging infrastructure is a competitiveness problem.”

Timmons also highlighted the importance of the federal government’s role in funding the national infrastructure, noting a recent NAM poll of manufacturing that found that 67 percent of manufacturers say that infrastructure is so important that all options to fund it should be on the table, and over 66 percent doubt that it is positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy.

Timmons concluded by reiterating the NAM’s intention to push for a return to a “fully funded, multiyear reauthorization that, offers certainty and support for infrastructure projects that improve safety, facilitate trade and create jobs. The road ahead is long, but manufactures are confident we will succeed.”

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Ask an Expert: What’s next after WRRDA?

The recent passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013 (H.R. 3080) marked a significant victory for manufacturers. The long-overdue reauthorization invested in our nation’s 12,000 miles of inland and coastal waterways, which are responsible for transporting products and commodities valued at $185 billion per year. With WRRDA completed, our attention is focused on what is poised to be a significant year ahead for transportation policy.

Federal funding for highway and transit programs is set to expire Sept. 30, 2014. Congress passed the current authorization—the two-year, $105 billion Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)—after three years and ten short-term extensions of the previous funding bill. The NAM is working to ensure a robust, multi-year surface transportation reauthorization that builds on the bipartisan success of WRRDA. Manufacturers cannot afford the uncertainty that results from patchwork legislation.

Any transportation funding bill must, of course, address imminent Highway Trust Fund shortfalls. This could prove to be the biggest challenge in the reauthorization. Current predictions place the Highway Trust Fund on a path to insolvency sometime in 2015. The vast amount of investment needed for functional highway and transit programs is not something that states can shoulder on their own. If funding ceases, the entire manufacturing supply chain would be at risk. The Highway Trust Fund operates on user fees, and the NAM urges members of Congress to maintain that model as they negotiate a long-term fix.

Manufacturers are in agreement that their competitiveness hinges on sound infrastructure. A majority of manufacturers participating in a joint NAM/Building America’s Future survey said that U.S. infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, while roads in particular are getting even worse. U.S. infrastructure is not positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy. The NAM is hoping to change that through the next transportation bill. An investment in infrastructure is an investment in manufacturing.

Robyn Boerstling is the director of transportation and infrastructure policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

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I’m Stuck

The state of U.S. infrastructure is pretty dismal. But you don’t need an expert to tell you that. You are already paying the cost of congestion in lost time and fuel every single day when your roads and bridges are clogged, or your train is late, or even if your plane has been idling on the tarmac for far too long. What if you could let your member of Congress know when you’re stuck?

Building America’s Future (BAF) wants commuters to have a say about infrastructure through a new app that connects them with members of Congress. “Usually commuters think traffic is like weather – it is something that happens to them and they have no control over it. But that isn’t the case at all,” BAF Co-chair and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell Pennsylvania Governor said. The app has been downloaded nearly 10,000 times in the few short weeks since its release and opened a necessary – and ongoing – dialogue with representatives and senators.

Earlier this year, BAF partnered with the NAM on a survey that only underscored our nation’s infrastructure deficiencies. We cannot allow this trend to continue for any longer. Manufacturers depend on sound infrastructure to keep making their products in the United States. BAF’s app is called “I’m Stuck,” but it’s time to get moving. “The truth is America is stuck until Washington takes action,” Rendell said. Download the app here.

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Senate Passes WRDA Bill, NAM Urges House to Act

Today the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 by a vote of 83 to 14. This legislation will ensure the continued investment in our coastal and inland waterways.

It’s no secret that our nation’s aging system of inland waterways and ports are in need of modernization. The lack of investment is catching up to us. Our inland waterways system averages 52 service disruptions per day throughout the system. Manufacturers rely on these waterways to move commodities, finished products and inputs vital to their supply chains. Continued disruptions in the system drive up costs and makes manufacturers less competitive.

The WRDA bill passed by the Senate includes important reforms to improve project delivery and streamline the environmental review process for infrastructure projects sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation also includes a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) pilot program which will help to leverage investments in critical water infrastructure projects. And importantly the bill assesses the critical issue of under-investment in our ports and harbors by increasing authorized funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for harbor maintenance dredging.

The National Association of Manufacturers sent a Key Vote letter to Senators yesterday urging them to support this important bill. We strongly urge the House to take up and pass a WRDA bill as soon as possible. America’s infrastructure is in great need of investment and WRDA provides us an opportunity to start making investments no in our waterways and ports.

 

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Senate Set to Begin Consideration of WRDA Bill

Today the Senate will take up the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2013, S. 601, also known as WRDA. This legislation is critical to the competitiveness of manufacturers throughout the United States and will ensure investment in our 12,000 miles of inland and coastal waterways.  Our nation’s navigable rivers help keep transportation costs competitive and are vital for manufacturers’ supply chains to move products and commodities such as coal, petroleum, chemicals, steel, fertilizer and grain among others valued at approximately $78 billion.

Manufacturers strongly support the measures included in S. 601 to streamline environmental reviews that build off the success of coordinated reviews for federal highway and transit projects. It’s a proven process that works, saving time and money. The Federal Highway Administration recently found that environmental streamlining has cut the time to permit a highway project in half, from 73 months down to 37 months. Reducing red tape to deliver Army Corps-sponsored infrastructure projects is important progress.

We are also hopeful that S. 601 will be enhanced in the days ahead to make the nation’s vast inland waterway system more efficient and competitive. The framework provided by the Reinvesting in Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways (RIVER) Act of 2013, S.407 should be included in the final version of S. 601. A comprehensive capital development plan is necessary to achieve the full potential of a robust inland waterway system.

Too often, funds derived from Harbor Maintenance fees are diverted elsewhere instead of going into our ports and harbors for regular upkeep. The WRDA bill will ensure that the fees collected are fully used for intended harbor maintenance projects. More than 90 percent of the nation’s top 50 ports require dredging and by neglecting ports and harbors we are putting our nation’s manufacturers and industries at a competitive disadvantage.

The Senate’s anticipated swift action this week should signal to the House the importance of soon moving on its version of WRDA legislation.

Manufacturers rely on our nation’s inland waterways and ports to support jobs and grow. Our nation will fall even further behind if we do not make the necessary investments in critical transportation infrastructure.

Robyn Boerstling is director of transportation and Infrastructure Policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

 

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WRDA Bill Critical to Keep Manufacturing Moving

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works released its bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) proposal ahead of a mid-week Committee mark-up.  The draft is an important marker that will get the ball rolling on this long-stalled legislation.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, inland waterway shippers experience –  on average — 52 service interruptions a day on the entire system, meaning locks close due to either construction activity or an outright failure, with the latter increasing in frequency.

Commodities and products critical to manufacturing like coal, steel, fertilizer, petroleum, chemicals and grain among others, move efficiently on the nation’s 12,000 miles of commercially navigable and intra-coastal waterways.  WRDA ensures sustained investment in these commercially relevant waterways so that manufacturing inputs are received and finished products delivered.

Manufacturers also appreciate the Committee’s commitment to addressing the long-standing issue of under-investment in our nation’s ports and harbors. For too long, ocean shippers from nearly every sector of economy have helped finance a robust Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) that has not been allowed to expend funds in a manner that is commensurate with the demands our economy places on the nation’s ports and harbors.

The addition of a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation title that plays off the success of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and improving the environmental review process of Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored projects are welcome developments. The legislation must do what is necessary to move critical infrastructure projects more expeditiously and prevent Corps projects from falling victim to bureaucratic delays and poor project management, sometimes over periods of time that span decades.

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has placed WRDA at the top of its agenda. For manufacturers, WRDA is critical to keeping commerce moving.

 

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House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Holds First Hearing of New Congress

Articulating the federal role of transportation was the key theme in today’s inaugural House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing for the 113th Congress. Chairman Shuster set the tone by referencing the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and the settling of an early navigation dispute between Maryland and Virginia. Manufacturers in America have benefited greatly from the nation’s long-standing commitment to infrastructure and need seamless connectivity to survive in today’s competitive climate.

The two-year MAP-21 expires in September 2014 and the Chairman is beginning the reauthorization effort now. While issues like the overdue Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) and passenger rail reauthorization are top on the agenda this year, getting back to a well-funded, long-term surface transportation authorization is a goal manufacturers are fully behind.

Improving our nation’s aging infrastructure is part of the NAM’s Growth Agenda. We must invest and modernize our roads in order to compete and make the United States the best place in the world to manufacture.

Today’s witness former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said it best today, “We can’t be an exceptional country without a world-class infrastructure.”

The President reintroduced some ideas last night on infrastructure. We look forward to working with the Administration to advance rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and dealing with the most pressing challenges facing the transportation network. This will best be achieved by passing a well-funded, multi-year authorization immediately following the expiration of MAP-21 in 2014. (continue reading…)

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Report: Traffic Congestion Continues to Plague America’s Roads

The Texas Transportation Institute’s Annual Urban Mobility Report just released a fresh set of numbers showing that traffic congestion continues to plague America’s urban roads and interstate corridors. A newly introduced index also measures urban travel-time reliability and the results show that even more time needs to be factored to ensure on-time arrivals associated with appointments, just-in-time deliveries, airplane departures, etc. 

While the new data validates what commuters and users of the freight network experience on our roads every day, it’s a reminder to policymakers that short-term transportation authorizations will not solve the drain that traffic congestion causes our economy. 

The wasted time and fuel comes at an enormous cost to the economy – $121 billion annually. For manufacturers, the unreliability and the cost of congestion add more expense to supply chains that strive to be efficient and competitive. As we seek to be the best place in the world to manufacture and export our American-made products to global customers, we need a transportation system that that is better linked to achieving these goals.

There is no one solution or quick fix to deal with America’s traffic congestion problem, but it needs to be addressed. Two-year transportation bills and long-term funding uncertainty for nearly every mode of transportation – highways, transit, ports, airports and inland waterways – are not sustainable. For a nation that continues to fall in its infrastructure competitiveness rankings each year, a better approach is needed. This report is yet another reminder that our economy is not well-served by neglecting the parts that help keep it moving. 

Robyn Boerstling is director of transportation and infrastructure policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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