By Julie Landry Director, Government Affairs
Getting from point A to point B; we do it every day, whether it’s getting our kids to school, commuting to work or going on vacation. We use planes, trains and automobiles, relying on our nation’s infrastructure system to be there for us 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Yet Congress has been unable to come to agreement on how to provide a path forward for our nation’s ailing infrastructure.
Congress has again passed a short term extension of the current Highway Bill, extending through July 31 when the U.S. Department of Transportation will cease to have any funds available for our nation’s highways and infrastructure.
The pulp and paper industry is facing a historic capacity crisis in how we move our products to and from our suppliers and facilities and ultimately to the customer. AF&PA member companies are feeling the pinch now more than ever due to reduced trucking capacity (which has dropped by 16 percent since 2008), poor service and shut downs at our nation’s ports, and high rates from the railroads. Congress’ delays of the Highway Bill have failed to address real problems such as critical highway and bridge repairs our industry’s capacity crisis.
AF&PA supports increasing truck productivity by adding an additional axle to the current trucking configuration on the road so that trucks can safely carry more weight. In fact, if weights were increased with the additional axle we have found
- Increasing maximum truckload weights from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds could potentially reduce the number of truck trips related to forest products companies by approximately 2 million. The associated number of truck miles traveled could be reduced by about 362 million.
- If the weight limit were increased to 91,000 pounds, the number of truck trips taken by the industry could potentially be reduced by 1.4 million, while the number of truck miles traveled could decline by 250 million.
A reduction in truck miles traveled is directly correlated with fewer accidents, less traffic and even less emissions. 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.
Congress should enact a long term Highway Bill this year and fulfill its constitutional duty to provide infrastructure for our country.