The Obama administration recently introduced the Grow America Act (GAA), which is the administrations vision for a 4 year transportation reauthorization bill. The 4 year plan allocates 302 billion funding for upgrading Americas transportation infrastructure.
The bill obviously has a large impact on the shipping/freight industry. Our transportation infrastructure is out dated and much of our highways are badly in need of repair and expansion. 52 million tons of freight are hauled across the US every single day and that number is growing. The US needs to invest big time in freight transportation to allow and promote industrial growth. The freight industry is all ready dealing with far too many delays and obstacles. Something needs to be done as the current transportation bill MAP-21 expires.
Good sound investments in our infrastructure will not only help industrial expansion, but thousands of jobs would be created. The bills aim as purported by DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, is to add jobs, address aging roads and bridges, help state and local governments plan more long term projects and boost efficient freight networks.
The general intent and vision of the bill seems noble, but like everything else that comes out of Government, politics could make things sticky. The biggest issues seem to revolve around how the bill will be funded. There are two key aspects to adding funding:
- A one time proceed from yet to be specified corporate tax reforms.
- Giving States more flexibility in using Tolls for funding transportation
Another Caveat of the program is a 10 billion dollar fund for “targeted” projects.
While some groups such as the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association lauded the bill as “innovative and bold”, the American Trucking Association expressed disapproval. Their biggest concern is expanding Tolling. According to ATF spokesman Miles Morin: “Tolling existing interstates is inefficient, causes traffic diversions and increases supply chain costs…”
The Grow America Act (GAA) will be competing with another proposal called: “MAP-21 Reauthorization” which simply renews the funding for the expiring MAP-21 bill. The Grow America Act has a broader scope and represents an increase of $87 billion over the Map-21 reauthorization. The Grow America Act specifically identifies 10 billion dollars to address Freight. The American Trucking Association is concerned that “freight” may really mean “railroad” where as 70% of all freight is hauled by Trucks.
So depending on what group responds, the GAA is either an innovative way to grow our infrastructures and create jobs, or it is crony capitalism per ATA executive Vice President Dave Osiecki: “It is clear that this administration is aiming to hijack the Highway Trust Fund and convert it to a fund to finance a myriad of projects to benefit interests that do not pay user fees into the fund.”
As Packnet is tied to the freight industry, we are very interested in investing in transport and freight infra-structure, hopefully something comes out of congress that addresses our needs in a thoughtful manner.