If your business relies on inbound freight for raw materials or inventory, or ships out finished products via truck, rail or air, then it is absolutely dependent on the transportation infrastructure of the U.S.
Much has been made in the last few years, but particularly in recent weeks, about our nation’s declining infrastructure. You may have heard our President’s call to action during his State of the Union speech a few weeks ago. The cause for concern is not unfounded. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the United States a grade of D+ and estimates that we must invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to address the needs.
Highways, roads, and bridges that provide our trucking industry lanes to move valuable freight to and from customers are badly in need of repair. Our country’s airports are overdue for renovation or overhaul to support new planes and increasing traffic, yet the last new airport to open was over two decades ago in Denver. Our nation’s railroads are handling more product than ever before due, in large part, to advances in energy and oil & gas. Yet we continue to fall further behind because our nations leaders refuse to act.
In January 2015, the American Trucking Association called on members of the 114th Congress to approve an increase of federal fuel taxes to fund infrastructure programs under a long-term highway bill. In a similar letter, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AAA supported a similar approach to avert a transportation crisis set to unfold if the Highway Trust Fund reaches insolvency in May, as the current transportation bill expires.
Many businesses have invested over the last several years in their own supply chains. Investments in leading edge logistics technology, improved freight claims management, and freight auditing have greatly helped control transportation costs. All this investment, however, goes to waste if trucks cannot deliver on time due to congested or closed highways and bridges. For a country as car-centric as we are, our spending on roads relative to GDP doesn’t reflect it.
As The Economist reported in June 28th, 2014, “America saw two great booms in infrastructure spending in the past century, the first during the Great Depression, when the Pulaski skyway was built, and the second in the 1950s and 60s, when most of the interstate highway system was. Now, it spends about as large a share of GDP on roads as Sweden, where public transportation is pretty good.”
For a country whose economy is so dependent on getting goods and services to and from markets across the nation and around the world, let’s hope that our leaders can come together and forge a plan to invest in American infrastructure.
Our very economy, and your business, depends on it.