Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Twin Peaks

Industry behemoths unite to push tandem trailers, infrastructure modernization.

Some transportation heavyweights are throwing their heft behind a new organization dedicated to improving the country’s infrastructure, and advancing freight-friendly policies.

Americans for Modern Transportation (AMT), a new coalition of shippers and retailers led by shipping giants including UPS and FedEx Corp., Amazon.com, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation, intends to press congressional lawmakers this year to approve nationwide access of twin 33-foot trailers and expedite updating of the nation’s aging highway system. “We need to lay the groundwork for a modern transportation system,” the coalition wrote in a January statement. “Central to this goal is combining infrastructure enhancements with efficient trucking and policies as well as incentives for better safety and fuel technology.”

While the group argued the longer combination trailers would be safer and offer greater fuel efficiency, opponents balk at sharing roadways with the longer tandem rigs. Aside from advocating for the industry’s use of the twin 33-foot trailers, the group indicated it will tell lawmakers to increase investments for highway funding, and establish new road technologies. Additional coalition members include Securing America’s Future Energy, the National Industrial Transportation League, American Highway Users Alliance, International Warehouse Logistics Association, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and the National Association of Manufacturers. American Trucking Associations is not part of the coalition.

In 2015, Congress sought to adopt a proposal that would have approved twin 33s nationwide. Pushback from key senators ultimately led to the removal of the proposal in a fiscal 2016 spending bill.  In May of 2016, Fred Smith, founder and chairman of FedEx, said he was optimistic nationwide use of 33-foot twin trailers, currently allowed in 18 states, would be able to gain approval during the next presidential administration.

With the business-friendly, regulation-averse Trump administration working with Republican House and Senate majorities, prospects look good for the AMT agenda, particularly “piquing” interest in twin trailers. The only sticking point in modernization of the nation’s roads, bridges, seaports and intermodal rail hubs is likely to be how to raise the funds to pay for it all.

Kirk Shearer

800-989-0054 x103

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