Transportation ​Capacity Crisis and Efficient Trucking

The forest products industry faces a nationwide shortage of transportation capacity and inefficiencies. Moving raw materials to mills and moving products to customers remains increasingly difficult and costly.

The forest products industry is an important consumer of transportation services

  • Accounted for 6.1 percent of total ton miles across all modes of commodity transportation (truck, rail, water, air)
  • Represented 9.4 percent of ton miles for commodities shipped by truck
  • Paper and wood products manufacturing combined ranked 5th among manufacturing industries in terms of 2012 truck tonnage (out of 20 industries)

Increase in Freight Shipped + Increase in Dollars Needed for Investment = Capacity Crisis

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that by 2025, the amount of freight shipped throughout the U.S. will increase by 87 percent from 2000 levels. The National Association of Manufacturer’s estimates that overall investment for repair and maintenance of our nation’s highway system would be $629 billion and an additional $112 billion for bridges. Shippers like the forest products industry are crippled by additional costs and long lead times due to deteriorating conditions on the federal interstate system. Congress should make the proper investments in our nation’s roads and bridges to ensure that businesses can compete in a cost-effective, efficient and safe manner.

AF&PA advocates for investments and policies that will ease congestion on roads and create safer, stronger highways.

Fewer Trucks = Less Congestion = Less Wear/Tear = Fewer Accidents

Our national highway system cannot accommodate the coming surge in increased freight without also making changes to reduce the number of trucks hauling that freight. One way to reduce the number of trucks on the road is to safely increase the weight a truck is allowed to carry by adding an additional axle and brakes to the current truck configuration.

Truck weight limits have been frozen at 80,000 pounds on the national highway system for over 30 years. But these trucks are already on state and local roads. More than 90 percent of states allow heavier trucks to access some or all secondary roads; however, federal regulations keep them off the interstates – the safest place for truck shipments. In addition, many of the heavier trucks that are already permitted on state roads operate on only five axles – instead of the safer six axles.

According to the National Economic Council, 65 percent of U.S. major roads are rated in “less than good condition.” The U.S. DOT estimates that allowing six-axle trucks to carry more weight on interstates will save $2.4 billion in pavement restoration costs over the next 20 years.

AF&PA supports updating the antiquated weight limits on the interstate so that truck traffic can be reduced in a safe and efficient manner.