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March 30, 2011 8:15 AM, EDT

ATA Chairman Makes Trucking’s Case for Highway Bill at Congressional Hearing

American Trucking Associations Chairman Barbara Windsor told a congressional panel Tuesday that the trucking industry needs a new surface transportation bill, with a focus on highways, as soon as possible.

Windsor, president of Hahn Transportation, New Market, Md., said that trucks move 70% of the nation’s freight, and that “our current highway system no longer meets our needs.”

 “Every day, freight flows through our ports, across our borders, and on our rail, highway, air and waterway systems as part of a global multimodal transportation logistics system,” said Hahn, speaking before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highways and transit subcommittee.

“Highways are the key to this system [and] a safe, efficient system of highways is essential to our country’s economic well-being, security, and overall quality of life,” she told the panel.

She also criticized the Obama administration’s transportation reauthorization proposal as being based heavily on ideology while ignoring practical analysis.

“While the proposal purports to significantly increase funding for highways . . . the ramp-up in funding over time is dwarfed by increases to transit and passenger rail,” Windsor said in her prepared remarks to the subcommittee.

“Incremental solutions will not allow us to meet the nation’s current and future transportation requirements,” Windsor said. “While we know that Congress is not receptive to a fuel tax increase, we would like the record to reflect that the trucking industry is willing to accept a fuel tax increase to help fund infrastructure.”

Windsor said the next highway funding authorization should fund non-highway items like transit from the General Fund, rather than fund that with fuel tax receipts, and should maintain the prohibition on tolls on currently untolled interstates.

“Tolls are a very inefficient means of revenue collection, and they cause diversion of traffic to alternative routes which are usually less safe and were not built to handle the additional traffic,” she told lawmakers.

Whatever funds the next authorization does generate should be used to address “critical bottlenecks on heavily traveled freight corridors,” Windsor added.