May 21, 2018 1:30 PM, EDT

Capitol Agenda for the Week of May 21: Summer in the City

New York City traffic on Memorial Day weekend 2017 Scenes such as this one from Memorial Day weekend in New York City in 2017 are sure to be repeated with AAA predicting more than 41.5 million travelers for this year's unofficial start to summer. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)

After we dig out those picnic baskets from our coat closets, and pack the car with beach umbrellas, towels and sunblock, we’ll mentally prepare ourselves to sit inside our cars with our loved ones in bumper-to-bumper traffic this Memorial Day.

According to AAA, more than 41.5 million people will travel this weekend, about 5% more than the previous year. The busiest driving days, not surprisingly, will be Thursday and Friday, with congestion in cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington expected to be relatively higher than in other regions. Rising fuel taxes and poor roadways and deficient bridges with the potential of causing mild to severe car damage will make your holiday vacation more expensive. We somehow seem to remember the majestic sunsets when we look back at our summer memories. With each passing year, however, those bottlenecks are beginning to give us flashbacks.

Yet, drawbacks notwithstanding, travelers still will go along for the ride, AAA concludes.

“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of AAA Travel and Publishing. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway.”

If we learned anything from Infrastructure Week, it’s that our freight and passenger networks need upgrading, and fast. Our time spent in traffic hinders our productivity. Getting to work, and school, and the gym, and, not to mention, the beach, shouldn’t be arduous. As Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put it during Infrastructure Week’s kickoff May 14: “When we get stuck on the roads, or when our planes are late, when our railroads are not delivering freight on a timely basis … all of that hurts our quality of life.”

THE WEEK AHEAD: (all times EDT)

May 22, 9:30 a.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board meets to consider the findings on the investigation of two 2016 school bus crashes.

May 22, 10 a.m.: Senate Commerce Committee marks up the “Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act” and considers the nomination of Heidi King to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

May 22, 10 a.m.: House Highways and Transit Subcommittee meets to review the implementation of motor carrier provisions in the 2015 FAST Act highway law. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Ray Martinez is among the witnesses.

May 23, 10 a.m.: House Appropriations Committee marks up the fiscal 2019 transportation bill.


DOWN UNDER: With many American policymakers struggling to identify a long-term path for funding their big-ticket infrastructure projects, Australia’s ambassador to the United States has proposed a rather simple approach: privatize the projects. 

F4A: Legislation that would aim to ensure nationwide uniformity for meal-and-rest-break laws for truckers easily advanced through a House funding subcommittee May 16. 

OPTIONS: The Trump administration still is sifting through a slew of financing mechanisms, from a vehicle-miles-traveled fee to a fuel tax, to bolster infrastructure funding, according to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. 


Scott Woodrome of FedEx Freight took home the grand champion title at the Ohio Truck Driving Championships on May 19. He competed in the tanker class.


The subject of electronic logging devices will likely come up during the May 22 House Highways and Transit Subcommittee hearing, sources tell Transport Topics.


Where are they now.


Trust is really hard in politics everywhere in the world.

Joe Hockey, Australia’s ambassador to the United States, at the Bipartisan Policy Center on May 16

Australian Ambassador to U.S. Joe Hockey


Remembering Amos Switzer.


When in Rome

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