When Failing Infrastructure Slows Down Trucking, It Slows Down America

As an official affiliate of Infrastructure Week (for the third consecutive year), TMAF contributed the following blog post, which can also be found in full at the Infrastructure Week website:

Trucking plays a vital role in every community across America.

Our 3.5 million drivers travel 279.1 billion miles annually to deliver the goods that our towns and cities need to thrive – from groceries and medicine, to retail goods, school supplies, and more. In fact, roughly 70 percent of the nation’s freight is moved by nearly 32 million trucks on the road, day in and day out.

The problem is: these millions of hardworking men and women behind the wheel are traversing roads that receive a “D” grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers; moreover, the ASCE found nearly one-third of our roads are in “poor or mediocre” condition, and one in nine of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient.

In other words, our roads are outdated and our bridges are crumbling – facts the trucking industry understands as well as anyone. And when failing infrastructure slows down trucking, it slows down America, too. Congestion, which is a symptom of our increasingly inadequate infrastructure, cost the trucking industry almost $50 billion in wasted time and fuel last year alone, a cost that affects the entire economy. In fact, as several of the country’s lawmakers have noted, due to the conditions of our roadways “American businesses pay $27 billion a year in extra freight transportation costs, increasing shipping delays and raising prices on everyday products.”

The costs associated with insufficient roads, bridges, tunnels and more don’t end there: The ASCE also found that by 2020, this deteriorating infrastructure will cost the economy nearly 1 million jobs and hurt GDP growth by $1 trillion. That includes deteriorating pavement and bridge conditions that alone will cost our economy $58 billion per year, and the resulting highway congestion that will cost us more than a quarter billion dollars.

So, what can we do about it?

Trucking is proud of the vital role we play in our communities and the economy (to which we contribute $726.4 billion in revenue every year). And we’ve been enthusiastic supporters of Infrastructure Week ever since we launched our industry movement – Trucking Moves America Forward.

We support the message and want to spread the word far and wide that to keep Moving America Forward, there’s no denying it’s time to invest and build. The trucking industry won’t sit idly when poor infrastructure puts our mission in jeopardy and prevents us from doing our jobs as safely and efficiently as possible.

As long as we need to, TMAF will stand strong, advocating for infrastructure spending that improves the highway networks most critical to the movement of freight and interstate travel, while prioritizing the safety of the motoring public in the process.

Importantly, we’ll continue to call on our political leaders at the state and federal levels to work with us to close the nation’s infrastructure investment gap.

Our hardworking drivers depend on structurally sound and safe roads to deliver America’s goods. Families, neighborhoods, hospitals, businesses and individuals like you and I – indeed the entire American economy – are counting on it.

And the 7 million-plus workers in the professional trucking industry stand in agreement with all of Infrastructure Week’s affiliates and supporters by echoing a unified, clear message: it’s #TimeToBuild.

Kevin Burch is the co-chairman of TMAF, chairman of American Trucking Associations and president of Jet Express Inc.