- THE MAGAZINE
NASSTRAC, an industry association representing shippers, commended congressional conference committee members for their work in passing a highway bill which NASSTRAC says lays a foundation addressing America’s need for adequate freight transportation infrastructure.
“NASSTRAC has placed a significant emphasis on the topic of infrastructure over the past few years,” said Mike Regan, chairman of NASSTRAC’s advocacy committee. “While this highway bill does not include everything we wanted, it lays a foundation for future improvements to our nation’s freight transportation infrastructure.”
NASSTRAC, otherwise known as the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council, represents manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and distributors that rely heavily on over-the-road trucking to safely and efficiently move freight through their supply chains.
The group has been a vocal supporter of a long-term highway plan and appropriate funding, and had been urging Congress to enact a bill that funds badly needed infrastructure construction and maintenance at no less than MAP-21 levels. Along with various filings and formal letters to House and Senate conference committees, NASSTRAC had led two fly-ins to Washington that resulted in dozens of meetings between shippers and members of Congress, with infrastructure being a topic of primary concern.
“On behalf of NASSTRAC, I thank Chairmen Mica and Boxer, and all the conferees for putting partisanship aside and developing a compromise bill that will benefit shippers, the trucking industry, our economy, and our country overall,” Regan added. “We now urge President Obama to quickly sign this critical legislation.”
One area where the bill falls short, Regan points out, is in the area of truck productivity. NASSTRAC had urged the conference committee to incorporate provisions that would improve motor carrier productivity, including enabling states to allow longer and heavier trailers, consistent with safety and highway wear and tear in order to accommodate increased demand without needlessly increasing the number of trucks on roadways.
“While there are many positive aspects to this new highway bill, NASSTRAC is disappointed that instead of addressing this [productivity improvement] in the legislation, there is a provision which calls for a two-year study on the heavier truck issue,” said Regan. “Substantively speaking, this legislation does not address truck productivity, which is important to shippers relying on over-the-road freight transportation. By giving in to fear-based misinformation, this bill unfortunately delays the deployment of some of the trucking industry’s safest, most fuel-efficient trucks. Past studies have shown time and again that modest increases in truck size and weight limits have a net positive effect on highway safety and maintenance.”