Truckers encouraged by recommendations from freight panel

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Truckers have reasons to be encouraged about recommendations by a congressional panel that is looking for ways to make freight movement more efficient. Recommendations by the House-appointed Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation feature a strong commitment to highways while steering clear of truck-specific tolls and other taxes that would hurt truckers’ bottom lines.

The 11-member panel, chaired by Rep. John J. Duncan, R-Tenn., and ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York, released its report on Tuesday, Oct. 29. Recommendations will help the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee promote freight movement in the next transportation policy and funding bill due in Congress next year.

The term “robust public investment” surfaced regularly during the panel’s monthly hearings held from April through October, and the term is firmly implanted in the final report.

“We certainly agree with the bipartisan members of the panel that the federal government plays a vital role in transportation and freight movement,” said Ryan Bowley, director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“One of the key parts of this document, beyond its recommendations, is that it does a fantastic job of recognizing what truckers see every day, and that is how important highways are in the overall movement of freight.”

Panel recommendations span all modes of travel from highways to waterways including rails, ports and airports, and call for the U.S. Department of Transportation secretary to establish a national freight plan.

Overall, the recommendations pick up where the current transportation funding law known as MAP-21 left off.

“The report provides recommendations across all modes of freight transportation and, at the end of the day, all of this is something that can have a benefit to truckers, because almost all goods arrive to their final destination on a truck,” Bowley said.

OOIDA submitted comments to the panel, some of which responded to testimony at public hearings by D.C. think tanks that recommended charging exorbitant tolls on every mile that truckers drive. Fortunately, the toll effort did not make it into the panel’s final report.

“One of OOIDA’s main highway policy priorities is ensuring that federal highway dollars that are paid by truckers and other motorists are invested back into the highway system,” Bowley said.

“Policies that ensure that state DOTs pay more attention and pay more focus on freight helps ensure that those highway dollars stay with highways and do not go to other areas. That was part of the focus of MAP-21, and we look forward to working with members of Congress to continue that progress in the next highway bill.”

Copyright © OOIDA

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