June 24, 2013 2:15 PM, EDT
Congressional Freight Panel Visits FedEx, Memphis Port

A Congressional panel established to identify ways to improve U.S. freight transportation efficiency visited FedEx Corp. facilities and the Port of Memphis, Tenn., late last week, meeting with representatives of the region’s freight transportation community.

Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, and members of the panel are continuing to gather input for recommendations that can help address U.S. freight transportation challenges, the lawmakers said in a statement.

The special freight panel of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held its first hearing in April, and its recommendations will be considered for inclusion in future national transportation legislation.

“The movement of goods across our nation may not always grab headlines, but the efficiency of freight transportation impacts the lives of every American on a daily basis,” Duncan said. 

“Transportation accounts for up to 10% of a product’s total cost, so bottlenecks and limitations in our transportation system can significantly drive up the cost of everything we buy. By coming to Memphis, an important hub for U.S. freight transport, [we were] able to see firsthand how efficiencies can be replicated and where challenges continue to exist throughout our national transportation system,” he said.

The panel’s other members are Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).

The group toured FedEx Express’ complex to better understand how the company’s operations and logistics system and use of technology help lower its costs.

The day after the FedEx visit, the gorup on Friday visited the Port of Memphis, the fourth-largest inland port in the United States, where they received briefings on inland waterways issues and specific issues pertaining to ports such as Memphis that primarily handle bulk freight, compared with ports that handle containerized freight, such as Los Angeles/Long Beach.

Panel members also crossed the Mississippi River to visit West Memphis, Ark., where they met with representatives of the Arkansas and Tennessee transportation and business communities to discuss freight transportation challenges.