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Transportation officials laud Trump’s call for infrastructure plan

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President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Trump called on Congress to work together with him to pass an infrastructure plan. (Associated Press: CAROLYN KASTER)

WASHINGTON — President Donald J. Trump only mentioned the nation’s infrastructure and its proposed new Canada-Mexico trade agreement in his State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday night, but what he said brought immediate support from the American Trucking Associations, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Many of us campaigned on the same core promises:  to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers; to rebuild and revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure; to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs; to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure; and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first,” Trump said about halfway through his speech.

“Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” he said moments later. “I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future.  This is not an option.  This is a necessity.”

“Tonight, President Trump called for a national, bipartisan effort to restore our country’s declining infrastructure — and America’s truckers are answering that call,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear. “A win on this issue will require real investment, not budgetary gimmicks as tried in years past. That is why America’s truckers, along with a broad coalition of the business community, have pledged our financial commitment to making this national priority a reality.

“Decades of failed leadership in Washington have led us to this point, which is why we commend the president for seizing this opportunity to bring all sides together to forge a common path forward. Restoring our national infrastructure to greatness will further ignite our economy, make us more competitive abroad, and give Americans more time to spend with family and less time stuck in traffic.”

Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director, said Trump’s address was once again making transportation infrastructure investment a top national priority.

“Transportation has long been a bipartisan concern and this year, with the administration’s support a transportation bill can be that rare opportunity to bring members of Congress together from both sides of the aisle,” Tymon said. “AASHTO and its member state departments of transportation stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress on a national plan to shore up the Highway Trust Fund and make the investments needed to modernize our aging transportation infrastructure.”

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves, R-Mo., said Trump was crystal clear to the American people that he wants to cut the congestion we all face in our daily lives, fix our roads and bridges, and modernize our waterways, ports, railways, and airports.

“With the President’s leadership on infrastructure, and the widespread agreement on the need to act, we have a prime opportunity to achieve something that matters to people across the country and to our economy,” Graves said. “It’s up to Congress to work together and with the administration to find common ground on issues that pose real threats to the future of our infrastructure network.  We need infrastructure solutions that address our long-term funding issues, cut the time and costs involved in the project delivery process, and recognize that a modern economy demands the safe and timely integration of 21st century technology.”

Turning to cross-border trade, Trump said he had met the men and women of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, and many other States whose dreams were shattered by NAFTA.

“For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal.  But no one ever tried — until now,” he said. “Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers:  bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words:  made in the USA. Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.”

Spear continued to urge Congress to move quickly on the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“Trucking and trade are synonymous. Trucks move $720 billion worth of goods annually across our borders with Canada and Mexico, and cross-border trucking activity supports more than 47,000 jobs in the United States,” he said. “Any significant disruption to those trading relationships would have serious consequences for trucking and the economy, so we join President Trump in his call for Congress to quickly ratify the USMCA trade agreement.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Diesel heads up 4 cents a gallon to $3.006

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Diesel prices jumped 4 cents a gallon to ring up Tuesday at $3.006. (The Trucker file photo)

For the past several months, including the end of 2018, all the “experts” said oil (and consequently diesel) was going nowhere but up. It had to, they reasoned, after prices had almost literally scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Then oil and diesel both went down for weeks. After that it stayed the same.

Now diesel prices are finally up — 4 cents a gallon — to $3.006 a gallon Tuesday from $2.966 a gallon last week.

Normally, diesel prices would have been announced Monday, but since it was President’s Day, diesel prices were released Tuesday.

And it may be a testament to how long prices had been going down or stayed flat that none of the U.S. Information Administration’s 10 reporting regions were clocking $4-a-gallon diesel, not even California, where diesel was ringing up at $3.739.

Also, four regions were still below $3 a gallon as of Tuesday.

And although 4 cents a gallon for the on-highway national average was a significant jump from the week before, the Lower Atlantic and Midwest regions each jumped 5.5 cents a gallon. Diesel in the Lower Atlantic sector went from $2.872 last week to $2.927 Tuesday while in the Midwest, diesel prices went from $2.849 last week to $2.904 today.

The Gulf Coast had the lowest prices at $2.809 a gallon, up 3.3 cents from the week prior.

Is this the start of an upward trend? It’s hard to know what oil prices will do in a global economy that is teetering since what seems like a bandwagon jump out of the European Union.

Meanwhile, oil was trading up:

U.S. crude added 48 cents to $56.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after gaining $1.19 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 16 cents to $66.34 per barrel, The Associated Press reported.

For diesel prices by sector, click here.

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Ohio governor to reveal gas tax hike plan Thursday

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Ohio's tp Transportation Department executive says the state is facing an "impending crisis" unless more road funding is provided. (The Trucker file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll announce Thursday his proposed recommendation for increasing the state’s gas tax to deal with a chronic shortfall in spending on road construction.

DeWine, a Republican, says there are no other solutions outside a gas tax increase, while warning that any increase simply keeps Ohio from falling behind.

He wouldn’t provide details or say what the proposed increase will be. He spoke at an annual forum sponsored by The Associated Press.

DeWine says the increase is “just to keep us where we are today.”

The head of the Ohio Department of Transportation director said earlier this month that Ohio’s road maintenance and infrastructure are facing an “impending crisis” unless more funding is provided.

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OOIDA Foundation issues information it says debunks driver shortage ‘myth’

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Most carriers with high turnover do so by design, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions,” he said.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s research foundation published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

A fact sheet explains how the industry isn’t afflicted with a shortage of drivers, but is actually plagued with overcapacity and driver retention, the foundation reported.

A second, accompanying document talks about how wages have decreased for truck drivers at large carriers and many have moved toward smaller fleets.

Last year, the association also created a short video that explains why there is high turnover as opposed to a shortage.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of a myth of driver shortage,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “This misinformation is used to push agendas that are harmful to the industry and highway safety.”

To address the supposed driver “shortage,” some organizations have suggested that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered.” Spencer said.

OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users.

For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in studies that suggest there is a strong correlation between driver pay and highway safety, Spencer said.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” he said. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.

 

 

 

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