Infrastructure Coalition Advocates for Freight Funds
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WASHINGTON — A coalition of several dozen groups gathered in the nation’s capital to draw attention to supply chain projects in need of federal support, calling on policymakers to approve long-term funding as well as reform the federal permitting process.
The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors is pressing for further attention to projects that could be advanced with funding from the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law President Joe Biden signed in November 2021.
About five dozen freight projects would be enhanced by additional federal-level funding, the coalition indicated in a report titled “Freight Can’t Wait.” Projects include the ExpressRail Elizabeth Southbound Connector by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Interstate 710 South Zero Emission Truck Program by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The L.A. project has already received $50 million in seed funding at the local level as part of a planned $200 million program to deploy zero-emission heavy-duty truck infrastructure technology along the corridor, per background from the group.
We’re kicking off the #CAGTC Annual Meeting with a Congressional Staff Panel featuring staff from @TransportGOP @TransportDems @EPWCmte @commercedems. Thanks for joining us today and sharing your insights on BIL implementation & priorities for the 118th Congress! pic.twitter.com/ym9uKfJfRS — Give Freight a Fund (@CAGTC) May 17, 2023
“While the bipartisan infrastructure law provided historic funding for freight infrastructure projects, our work is far from over,” Paul Anderson, CAGTC board of directors chairman and president and CEO of Port Tampa Bay, said May 17. “We are seeking to maximize these opportunities by understanding how the programs are serving freight infrastructure developers across the country to determine what is working and what could be improved.”
He continued, “As demonstrated in CAGTC’s ‘Freight Can’t Wait’ book, our nation’s freight investment needs are immense, and this level of federal partnership must be sustained well into the future.”
CAGTC members include the Port Newark Container Terminal, Port of Hueneme, Port Houston, Port of San Diego, HNTB Corp., the Illinois Soybean Association and the Intermodal Association of North America.
U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark, speaks at a United for Infrastructure 2023 event. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
As part of the infrastructure funding debate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is advocating for robust updates to the federal permitting process. The chamber recently launched “Permit America to Build.” The campaign champions congressional action by this summer on comprehensive reforms to certain permitting laws.
“Our campaign has united nearly 350 coalition partners from business to labor, telecoms to trucking, energy to environmental groups, and more. There is widespread agreement on the need for permitting reform, and we’re glad that many of your organizations have joined us in this effort,” Suzanne Clark, the chamber’s president and CEO, told infrastructure and freight transportation stakeholders on May 16 at an event titled, “United for Infrastructure.”
“Now we need action,” she added. “This is about finishing the job we set out to do — and about strengthening our nation’s economy so America can continue to lead the world.”
The chamber’s campaign includes the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Trucking Associations, American Wood Council, Americans for Tax Reform, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated Equipment Distributors, Associated General Contractors of America, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Business Roundtable, among others.
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“Our permitting system is fundamentally broken, and it is delaying the investments that we desperately need in energy, transportation, broadband, technology and countless other sectors,” Neil Bradley, the chamber’s chief policy officer, said in March. “It should never take longer to get a permit than it does to build a project, and it is long past time for Congress to act. Over the last several years, both parties have put forward constructive proposals. Our ‘Permit America to Build’ campaign is focused on ensuring that we turn those proposals into enacted, meaningful reform.”
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided historic funding for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, but we can only get the best return on that investment if we prioritize projects that will have the most impact on your economy and supply chains,” said ATA Vice President of Highway Policy Darrin Roth. “By greenlighting funding for major long-term projects — and streamlining the permitting and approval process — we can ensure that new funds from IIJA are doing the most good.”