Transportation

transport

ASA Positions

  • ASA requests that Congress provide adequate funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and specify that it be spent to dredge and repair inland waterways damaged by historic flooding.
  • ASA supports the Realize America’s Maritime Promise Act and the Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011, which will ensure sufficient funding for dredging of inland waterways and port maintenance activities, to prevent money collected from being diverted to the General Treasury for other purposes.
  • ASA supports the Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act (WAVE4), to spur the action that is urgently needed to avoid catastrophic disruptions to commerce and maintain the economic competitiveness of U.S. exports.
  • ASA opposes any disruption or delay in dredging activities on the Mississippi River System that would restrict barge traffic.
  • ASA urges that the funding, authorized in the 2007 WRDA for the upgrade and construction of locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, be appropriated and/or provided.
  • ASA supports the exemption of farm trucks from a set of regulations intended for interstate long-haul truckers, including requirements for commercial drivers’ licenses, medical exams and certificates, hours of service, and vehicle inspection and maintenance.
  • ASA supports the truck weight limit provisions as proposed in the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), which would increase the limit to 97,000 pounds when an additional sixth axle is added.

For more information on transportation and infrastructure, visit:

Soy Transportation Coalition

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Waterways Council

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[toggle title=”Issues Background”] With regard to locks and dams, a long-term plan, such as the Capital Development Plan, which was formulated by the waterways industry and Corps of Engineers, is needed to improve the program management and provide a sufficient and reliable funding mechanism. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) have introduced H.R. 4342, the Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act of 2012 (WAVE4), which would implement the Capital Development Plan into law. The Capital Development Plan and WAVE4 are supported by industry stakeholders as a way to fund the navigation system. The proposal prioritizes navigation projects across the entire system, improves the Corps of Engineers’ project management and processes to deliver projects on time and on budget, and recommends a funding mechanism that is affordable and meets the system’s needs.

The recommendations add a cost-share cap on all new lock construction projects that would preserve the Inland Waterways Trust Fund by preventing the industry from having to fund significant cost overruns. The plan also calls for an increase in the 20-cents-per-gallon fuel tax currently paid by the barge and towing industry to improve the future viability and efficiency of the inland waterways system. The lock and dam infrastructure on the Mississippi River system has exceeded its intended lifespan, is deteriorating and in danger of experiencing a catastrophic failure. The WRDA of 2007 authorized $2.2 billion for construction of new 1,200-foot locks at Locks 20, 21, 22, 24 and 25 on the Upper Mississippi and at LaGrange and Peoria Locks on the Illinois River. The authorized projects are supposed to be funded through annual appropriations and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. However, little has been appropriated by Congress, the trust fund has a significant backlog, and a cumbersome and inefficient administrative process at the U.S. Army Corps has resulted in no progress on the modernization of the locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River System. Annual funding must be provided to ensure the Lower Mississippi River remains fully open for commerce. The inland waterways navigation system, especially the Mississippi River, is a vital asset in the movement of important commodities such as grain, coal, steel, petroleum and aggregate materials. Dredging of this critical artery must be maintained and there have been funding shortfalls over the past several years. To address the funding for dredging, ASA supports the Realize America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act (H.R. 104) and the Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011 (S. 412). The goal of these companion bills is to establish a firewall around the monies collected via the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). The bills require that all funds from the HMTF be used solely for dredging and harbor maintenance. The HMT is collected as an ad valorem tax of .125% on imported cargo arriving into the United States. Over the last decade or so only about half the funds collected have actually been appropriated for their intended purposes, including maintenance dredging of deep waterways. The HMT generates about $1.5 billion annually while Congress has appropriated an average of about $735 million, with the unused funds added to the general treasury and used for other non-maritime projects. If the HMTF was fully applied to the approved projects, as originally intended, there would not be an annual shortfall of funding to dredge our nation’s waterways. The federal surface transportation law establishes the policy and funding for highway and transit programs. The bill is subject to reauthorization every 6 years and is overdue. The law currently exempts agricultural carriers from the hours-of-service regulations if they operated only within a 100-mile radius from their central base of operation. The flexibility provided by this exemption is needed in the agricultural industry during busy planting and harvest season, when seasons and weather patterns do not comply with normal work schedules. Planting and harvesting without this exemption would require a substantially larger fleet of trucks and drivers and result in higher costs to farmers and/or missed production opportunities. The hours of service exemption should be maintained for agriculture in the next Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill. ASA supports an increase in truck weight limits as proposed in H.R. 763, the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA). The SETA provisions are carefully targeted to give states the option to selectively raise interstate weight limits for trucks equipped with six axles, instead of the typical five. The goal of SETA is to make U.S. truck transportation safer and more efficient. The U.S. federal weight limit has been set at 80,000 pounds since 1982. Many truck shipments meet this limit with significant space left in the trailer – forcing shippers to use more trucks and fuel than necessary. Studies by the U.S. DOT and Transportation Research Board have both determined that six-axle trucks traveling at 97,000 pounds do not lose stopping or handling capability, nor do they adversely affect our nation’s roads. In fact, the higher weight limit would cut the number of trucks needed for shipments—saving $2.4 billion in pavement restoration costs over 20 years, according to a U.S. DOT study. According to a soybean farmer funded study on truck weight limits, a 97,000 lb. semi would accommodate 183 additional bushels of soybeans per load. In addition, a 97,000 lb. semi would provide soybean farmers $1.2 million in fuel savings when diesel prices are $2 per gallon and $2.5 million in savings when diesel is $4 per gallon. By safely increasing the amount of freight each vehicle may carry, shippers can dramatically reduce the truckloads, vehicle miles and fuel they need to ship each ton of freight. SETA would also have a direct impact on highway safety. The biggest single factor in the number of truck accidents is vehicle miles traveled. By minimizing the vehicle miles any one company must travel, the legislation would make highways safer. In fact, since the United Kingdom raised its gross vehicle weight limit to 97,000 pounds for six-axle vehicles in 2001, fatal truck-related accident rates have declined by 35 percent. More freight has been shipped while the vehicle miles traveled to deliver a ton of freight have declined. [/toggle][toggle title=”Download ASA Position Paper on Transportation”] [gview file=”http://dev.soygrowers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ASA-BACKGROUNDER-TRANSPORTATION-AND-INFRASTRUCTURE-2014-July.pdf”] [/toggle][toggle title=”Recent News On Transportation” last=”last”] [display-posts category=”transportation” posts_per_page=”5″ include_date=”true” order=”DESC”] [/toggle][toggle title=”Soy Action Center”]

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