The hearing will focus on current and future challenges facing the efficient movement of freight throughout our nation’s transportation system, including in ports, on railroads, and by commercial motor vehicles. Witnesses will testify about the changing nature of freight transportation, the anticipated increase in freight volumes, and the infrastructure needs to support both.
They will also testify about new technological developments that could help improve the efficiency of freight transportation. Additionally, witnesses will focus on the specific issues affecting different regions, modes of transportation, and industries throughout the United States. Senator Lautenberg will preside.
Frank R. LautenbergSenatorToday we are going to take a closer look at how our nation moves its freight by ship, truck, train and barge—and the challenges we must overcome to keep that freight and our economy moving in the future.Our country has one of the best freight transportation systems in the world.It is the backbone of our economy.It gets the products Americans rely on—such as food, clothing, and toys—on store shelves.Raw materials like coal, lumber and iron—required to manufacture all kinds of goods—are also moved as freight.Just-in-time delivery and real-time tracking of shipments have greatly reduced the need for companies to have huge inventories, because we can count on goods being here when we need them.Jobs are at stake, too. In my home State of New Jersey, 11 percent of our 4.4 million workers are involved in the movement of goods.But our economy is threatened by the current state of our transportation infrastructure and its inability to meet future demands.The Minneapolis bridge collapse was the nation's wake-up call for the current state of our infrastructure. In fact, 25 percent of our nation’s bridges are still deficient.Even when these bridges are repaired, our highways—along with our ports and railroads—will still be overwhelmed.Congestion on our roads already costs our country nearly $80 billion a year.On the rails, some trains take at least a day just to cross the City of Chicago.And total freight traffic is expected to double in the next 20 years.To keep getting the goods we need in the future, we must invest in our transportation infrastructure now.Building roads will not solve all of our problems, and in some places it is no longer even possible.Trains and barges can reduce highway congestion and wear-and-tear on our roads and bridges.They are also more energy-efficient than trucks, which will aid our fight against global warming and help us become more energy independent.We need to encourage these efficiencies to the maximum extent.The federal government has to step up and play a leadership role in planning our future transportation network, one which takes these benefits into account.In New Jersey, we know that we must actively plan freight transportation solutions in order to keep our region’s economy moving.In 2007, the New Jersey Department of Transportation published its first comprehensive statewide freight plan.It’s time for the federal government to look to the New Jersey region for ideas to build a freight transportation network that is ready for the future’s demands.Congress will consider these challenges in the next year as we reauthorize our surface transportation programs.I look forward to hearing from our witnesses as to how we can meet that challenge.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Paul BrubakerAdministrator, Research and Innovative Technology AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation
The Honorable Astrid C. GlynnCommissionerNew York State Department of Transportation
Mr. Edward HambergerPresident and CEOAssociation of American Railroads
Mr. Richard M. LarrabeePort Commerce DirectorPort Authority of New York and New Jersey
Mr. Glenn VanselowExecutive DirectorPacific Northwest Waterways Association