/ Transportation / Industry Groups Tout Needs in ‘Infrastructure Week’ While Awaiting Trump Investment Plan

Industry Groups Tout Needs in ‘Infrastructure Week’ While Awaiting Trump Investment Plan

Parul Dubey on May 19, 2017 - in Transportation

While the Trump administration continues to craft its promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan, many of the nation’s transportation industry and business groups will try to build momentum in coming days for such investment as part of the 2017 “Infrastructure Week” events.

The May 15-19 week of focused industry effort kicks off with business, labor and government leaders meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and hearing from U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Chao has recently said President Trump is pushing administration officials to quickly put an investment package together, one she said will include $200 million in direct federal funding over 10 years for a wide array of infrastructure categories.

However, Trump has also said his 2018 budget proposal will call for deep funding cuts for some transportation programs, and many industry officials want to see how he proposes to fund the current programs as well as how he plans to pay for increased project spending.

The Infrastructure Week’s chock-full roster of events includes a May 17 joint briefing on freight-movement issues by officials from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Association of Port Authorities, who will be joined by rail and trucking industry officials in talking about how the nation can improve its multimodal transportation links.

Those associations are conducting the event, titled “By Road, Rail and Sea: Building a 21st Century Multi-modal Freight Network,” with Congressional Ports Caucus Co-chairs Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., at the Rayburn House Office Building.

Moderated by Port Everglades CEO Steve Cernak, who is also the AAPA’s chair-elect, it will feature presentations from Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, Port of Port Arthur (Texas) Deputy Director Larry Kelley, BNSF Railway Senior Vice President Amy Hawkins, and David Manning, president of Nashville-based intermodal truck and warehousing company TCW and first vice chairman of the American Trucking Association.

That event at the Rayburn House Office Building is open to congressional staff, the public and the press, and will provide a glimpse into how the various transportation modes need to work together to move cargo more efficiently through a complex supply chain of movements by road, rail and waterway.

That follows a May 9 Senate hearing in which Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn highlighted that the port sector needs Congress to follow up its commitments to authorize federal harbor dredging water projects by also appropriating the money necessary to get those projects built. [See related story in Nation section.]

AASHTO and the AAPA have worked together in the past to help mobilize industry support for important legislation such as the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which was the first long-term measures to authorize funds specifically for freight mobility projects. It provides $11 billion in dedicated freight funds over five years.

Last December, the two associations also released their “State of Freight II Report” to showcase the growing number of state DOT freight programs taking shape under the FAST Act.

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