Letters to the Editor

Freight railsmarteralternativeto trucks

Congress returns to work April 24 after a two-week recess and, as usual, faces a mountain of important tasks.

Recent remarks by President Trump indicate a big focus in Washington — in addition to revisiting healthcare and embarking on tax reform — will be revitalizing an American infrastructure system recently graded a “D+” by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Policymakers should absolutely advance public policies that both enhance public spending and spur private infrastructure investment.

Privately owned freight railroads, which spend their own money so taxpayers do not, believe they can do so by focusing on solutions that make the Highway Trust Fund solvent and ensure users of infrastructure — including commercial ones — pay for their use, as freight railroads do.

Since 2008, Congress has transferred $143 billion from the general fund, financed by taxpayers, to the highway trust fund.

Lawmakers should consider measures such as a weight-distance fee that can differentiate the use of roads and bridges between average drivers and commercial users that inflict far more damage.

In doing so, they can put to rest new and misguided efforts by select truck shippers to raise federal truck weight limits by 14 percent.

Any federal program that boosts truck weight limits — including a “pilot” program in select states — further subsidizes commercial highway users at the expense of taxpayers, exacerbates deterioration of crumbling infrastructure, creates more highway gridlock and tilts the policy scale against a critical freight rail industry directly serving economic growth at PortMiami.

While fixing roads, bridges and highways is difficult, saying no to heavy trucks is easy.

Ian Jefferies,

Association of American Railroads,

Washington, D.C.