Trucking Earns Record Revenue, Yet Congress RoadBlocks Highway Billby Jana Ritter - Published: 5/18/2015
In 2014, the U.S. trucking industry earned its highest record revenues, topping the $700 billion for the first time ever. And while this good fortune is largely due to the booming economy, it’s the 3.2 million professional truck drivers that hit the road everyday to do the hard work of transporting nearly 70 percent of the nation’s goods. In fact, according to the latest numbers released by the American Trucking Associations, trucks moved 10 billion tons of all domestic freight in 2014. “Last year, we saw freight volumes grow significantly. Increases in freight combined with continued tight capacity helped drive revenues, and coupled with lower fuel prices, we saw motor carriers go on a buying spree for new trucks as they replaced older equipment,” explains ATA’s chief economist, Bob Costello.
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But the very industry earning its highest year in revenues and consistently delivering the food on our tables, medicine for our families, the supplies for our military and all the other goods and services that makes transportation the lifeblood of the nation's economy – has been left in a state of limbo by the very people in charge. Yet again, congress has failed to pass a long-term highway bill and the Highway Trust Fund’s authorization is expiring on May 31st.
Already this inability to pass a long-term highway-funding bill has created a great many road bumps for the trucking industry. Poorly maintained highways are what lead to delivery delays caused by traffic congestion, not to mention higher fuel and labor costs for the extra road time. Industry experts also fear that failure to pass this bill by the two-week deadline will not only further compromise transportation, but will ultimately end up being costly for the entire US. Many say that not only will the government's failure to act effectively slow the flow of goods throughout the US economy, it will further deteriorate the nation’s aging infrastructure and directly impact Americans as well. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, congested roads are already costing motorists an estimated $100 billion per year in wasted time and fuel, not to mention an average of $324 a year in vehicle repairs costs related to driving on unrepaired roads.
It is also a bad sign that the government has not stepped up on the state level to support critical infrastructure projects. In fact, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has seen a dramatic increase in the number and value of delayed highway projects as states cannot count on their federal funding share.
If congress again fails to push through the adequate funding needed for new roads and bridges, their inaction may be the roadblocks preventing America from moving forward.