A trucking executive addressed members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week, suggesting Congress begin dedicating real funding to address freight transportation needs and improve the efficiency and productivity of the industry.
“Trucks move 68 percent of our nation’s freight tonnage,” said Derek Leathers, chief operating officer of Werner Enterprises Inc. He said the trucking industry also moves $8.3 trillion worth of freight each year, which is nearly 60 percent of the nation’s economy.
And, he said, the trucking industry is expected to move an even greater share of freight in the future.
Leathers suggested that lawmakers dedicate specific funds to projects that will benefit freight transportation. These would include reducing or eliminating bottlenecks in the Interstate Highway System and intermodal freight connections. Revenue to fund these projects, he said, should come — not from tolls, vehicle miles traveled fees or widespread private investment — but rather from augmenting the current fuel tax system.
“The challenges facing fuel tax revenue over the next 20 years can be addressed by indexing the rate,” he said. “Substituting an untested, highly inefficient revenue collection mechanisms for an efficient revenue mechanism that is already in place would be illogical and irresponsible.”
Leathers also called on Congress to address truck productivity by lifting “the most restrictive truck weight regulations of any developed country.” He said that with projected increases in freight traffic, more productive trucks will be essential to meet the nation’s transportation needs.