ATA Voices Concerns Over DOT Shift Toward Rail, Maritime

May 06, 2010

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In a recent letter to the Department of Transportation, the American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves raised several concerns about the department's statements suggesting that freight rail and marine highways replace trucks.
Graves calls some of the department statements "factually incorrect," and that the sentiments can "breed irresponsible policy."

The ATA is referring to such DOT initiatives as Tiger grants, many of which went to rail improvements, the livability program and DOT investment to help freight rail companies build capacity. In the letter, Graves takes issue with the DOT's goal of getting "gas-guzzling trucks off the road," whether by working with the ports, marine highways, or railroads.

"With railroads reaching only one-fifth of U.S. communities, it's a gross misconception that the ability exists to significantly ease congestion by shifting freight from the roads to the rails," Graves said. "It's a further misconception that such a shift would also result in less congestion near urban areas. An intermodal ramp concentrates truck traffic for pickup and drop off in one location. The truck traffic that is removed would be largely in rural areas, while the truck trips needed as part of an intermodal move would still be concentrated on urban highways."

Graves cited the ATA's efforts to promote sustainability and safety among the trucking industry. He also pointed to the decreasing truck-involved fatality rate.

"Trucks moves 70 percent of the nations freight because for decades businesses and individuals have come to rely upon trucking as the most efficient and flexible form of freight transportation in the nation," Graves said. "Please do not disregard that fact as you work to shape transportation policy for the future of our nation."

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