Truck Policy Issues
There are three principal issues involved in improving freight transportation for trucking: 1) how to invest funds in ways that help truck freight movement; 2) how to raise more money for these investments; and 3) how to ensure that trucking pays for the full costs they impose on the system.
Investing in Truck Freight Projects
Because for the most part cars and trucks share a common infrastructure, any comprehensive solution to truck transportation challenges will require a comprehensive solution to our nation's roads and highways. This is because the performance and conditions of the nation's highway and road system are clearly substandard. Improving the entire system will have beneficial impacts for trucks as well as for passenger vehicles.
Having said that, in freight transportation, there is one nearly universal truth: almost every unit of freight reaches its final destination via truck. Yet alleviating freight congestion bottlenecks and addressing the "first mile" or "last mile"linking public to private freight infrastructure are frequently not part of the federal-aid highway system and may even be overlooked by state and local transportation planners. As evidenced by the limited last-mile investments around ports, the general lack of focus on alleviating freight bottlenecks, and the calls by many stakeholders fora "national freight program," manyof the nation's freight investment needs donot get adequately addressed through current federal policies and funding programs.
Because any freight-related revenue mechanism becomes an operating cost for the freight industry, visible benefits are necessary to generate the industry support required to make the mechanism politically viable. Thus, dedicating a significant portion of any additional freight-generated funds for freight purposes would improve their political viability. These projects include focusing on areas of freight-oriented congestion generally on the national highway system and on intermodal or border crossing projects, including access to and from ports.
Funding to Support for Freight Projects
There are two ways to pay for increased expenditures that would help truck travel: increasing the amount freight pays or obtaining the funds from other sources. Given the chronic underfunding of surface transportation and the significant federal budget deficit, it makes little sense to obtain funding from other sources. Diverting monies from the general fund either increases the deficit or reduces needed spending on other areas. Taking money from the
With the possible exception of a container tax that could be used to fund an intermodal/border crossing program, the best way to increase funds from freight in the short term is by increasing the fees that the trucking industry currently pays into the federal
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