In this issue:
The Trade Corridor Bulletin
Volume 15 – No. 5 | August 2021
Capitol Watch: Congressional Olympics: Infrastructure Legislation
By: Cecile Entleitner, First Published in Cargo Business News
Every few years a group of individuals, chosen to represent their country, comes together in hopes of bringing home a victory. This feat often requires stamina, flexibility, perseverance, and teamwork. Of course, I'm not referring to the Olympics but to Members of Congress and their efforts to advance a multi-year infrastructure investment package. In August, a five-year infrastructure bill reached the highest podium of the Senate, passing by a bipartisan vote and setting the stage for the all-around final in the House.
Following some unforeseen delays, the opening ceremony was held on June 24. President Biden, alongside "flag-bearers" Senator Portman (R-OH) and Senator Sinema (D-AZ), announced they had reached an agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. The first hurdle was cleared when the team of 22 bipartisan Senators released the legislative text on August 2, incorporating new funding and programs in addition to a full five-year surface transportation reauthorization. The text was introduced as a substitute amendment to the House-passed reauthorization proposal, the INVEST in America Act. The Senate measure, titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), provides approximately $1 trillion over five years – $550 billion of which is new spending above baseline levels – for infrastructure programs, including freight and passenger transportation, water provisions, electric grid and energy infrastructure, and broadband. Of this total, the U.S. Department of Transportation would receive nearly $568 billion over five years, which represents an increase of roughly $274 billion above current funding levels.
The IIJA includes funding for fan favorites as well as new programs stepping into the reauthorization arena for the first time. It provides a funding boost for the freight formula program, $8 billion over five years for the popular INFRA grant program for large freight projects, $7.5 billion for a range of smaller multimodal transportation projects under the RAISE (formerly TIGER/BUILD) grant program, $5 billion for passenger and freight rail improvements through CRISI grants, and $2.25 billion for the Port Infrastructure Development Program. New contenders include: a fully multimodal grant program focused on transportation megaprojects, funded at $5 billion; $40 billion for bridge replacement and rehabilitation; and $3 billion in highway-rail grade crossing and separation grant funds.
Read the full article here.
House Passes FY22 Appropriations Bill, Committee Urges Multimodal Investment
By: CAGTC Staff
Please note: the legislation outlined below was intended to correspond with the House-passed INVEST in America Act. If Congress passes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the appropriations bill will likely require changes to correspond with the final law. As of now, the Senate has not yet produced any of its FY22 appropriations bills.
On July 29, the House passed a minibus comprised of seven fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills by a 219-208 vote along party lines. Among these was the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development’s (THUD) fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill, introduced on July 11. The legislation provides $105.7 billion in total budgetary resources for USDOT, a $19 billion increase over FY21 levels. Additionally, the bill includes $1.2 billion for RAISE/TIGER/BUILD grants, $200 million more than was provided in FY21, as well as several changes to the program’s funding distribution and set-asides. For example, the legislation increases the maximum grant size from $25 million to $100 million; the planning set-aside from $30 million to $40 million; and the single state maximum from 10 percent of total available funding to 15 percent. The package also changes the amount of funds required to be spent on rural projects from 50 percent to 30 percent. Furthermore, $500 million is provided for CRISI grants, an increase of $125 million above FY21. The bill provides $300 million for Port Infrastructure Development grants, $70 million more than FY21 levels, and $12 million for the Regional Infrastructure Accelerator Demonstration Program, up $7 million from last year.
In addition, the Appropriations Committee’s report offered several recommendations to USDOT and independent transportation agencies. The Committee expressed concern that USDOT has overemphasized funding for road projects when awarding RAISE/TIGER/BUILD grants in the past several years. The report urges USDOT to restore the program’s emphasis on multimodal, transformative projects that facilitate competitiveness. The Committee instructs USDOT to distribute funds equitably amongst transportation modes and between urban and rural areas. USDOT is also encouraged to prioritize multimodal projects for which federal funding provides the marginal funding required to complete the project. Moreover, the Committee directs USDOT to increase transparency in the INFRA grant evaluation process and to prioritize projects addressing freight capacity on interstates where truck traffic is growing at a faster pace than passenger vehicle traffic.
ACSCC Sends Letter to Secretary Raimondo with Principles for Freight Investment
By: CAGTC Staff
The 45-member Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (ACSCC) was established to advise the Secretary of Commerce on the necessary elements of a comprehensive national freight infrastructure and freight policy to support U.S. export growth and supply chain competitiveness. CAGTC President Leslie Blakey serves as the Coalition’s representative to the ACSCC. The ACSCC sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Raimondo in June sharing recommendations to guide freight infrastructure programs and investment to best achieve supply chain efficiency and resilience. The letter incorporates many of CAGTC’s longstanding policy priorities, including: a national, supply-chain oriented strategic approach to freight investment; dedicated, sustainable freight funding; merit-based criteria for competitive grant programs; and partnership with the private sector.
Read the full letter here.
Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy
A fair, open, and competitive marketplace has long been a cornerstone of the American economy, while excessive market concentration threatens basic economic liberties, democratic accountability, and the welfare of workers, farmers, small businesses, startups, and consumers.
The American promise of a broad and sustained prosperity depends on an open and competitive economy. For workers, a competitive marketplace creates more high-quality jobs and the economic freedom to switch jobs or negotiate a higher wage. For small businesses and farmers, it creates more choices among suppliers and major buyers, leading to more take-home income, which they can reinvest in their enterprises. For entrepreneurs, it provides space to experiment, innovate, and pursue the new ideas that have for centuries powered the American economy and improved our quality of life. And for consumers, it means more choices, better service, and lower prices.
Robust competition is critical to preserving America’s role as the world’s leading economy.
Yet over the last several decades, as industries have consolidated, competition has weakened in too many markets, denying Americans the benefits of an open economy and widening racial, income, and wealth inequality. Federal Government inaction has contributed to these problems, with workers, farmers, small businesses, and consumers paying the price.
Read the full Executive Order here.
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $905.25 Million in Proposed Awards for the FY 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant Program
U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced on June 30 that the Biden-Harris Administration intends to award $905.25 million to 24 projects in 18 states under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program. These grants advance the Administration’s priorities of rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating jobs by funding highway and rail projects of regional and national economic significance that position America to win the 21st century.
“These timely investments in our infrastructure will create jobs and support regional economies, while helping to spur innovation, confront climate change, and address inequities across the country,” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
INFRA grants were selected based on several criteria. In addition to prioritizing projects that would improve local economies, create jobs, and meet all statutory requirements, for the first time in USDOT’s history, grants were considered by how they would address climate change, environmental justice, and racial equity.
Read the full release here.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg Hosts Roundtable On Port Congestion, Supply Chain Disruptions at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
As part of the Administration’s ongoing work addressing supply chain disruptions, U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg hosted a virtual roundtable on congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Jewel Bronaugh; Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg, Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Daniel Maffei; Acting Administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Lucinda Lessley; Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administrator (FRA) Amit Bose; Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Meera Joshi; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia; and key stakeholders at the ports and throughout our Nation’s supply chain. They discussed the many consequences of increased congestion and examined opportunities to ease the movement of cargo and improve information sharing at the ports.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together serve as major gateways to international trade. Approximately 40 percent of all containerized freight flowing through the United States arrives or departs through these ports.
Read the full release here.
New awards program lifts up regional accomplishments that improve quality of life in northeastern Illinois
The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has launched a new awards program to honor communities and organizations for their work to make northeastern Illinois a better place to live, work and do business.
“CMAP is looking forward to celebrating the people, projects and places that make northeastern Illinois a more equitable and prosperous region,” CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman said. “By recognizing our individual achievements, we can inspire and learn from one another to improve quality of life for our residents and communities.”
The program features four award categories that embody the principles of ON TO 2050, the region’s long-range plan, to promote inclusive growth, strengthen regional resilience, and prioritize investment.
Read the full release here.
Throttled: The Economic Costs of Freight Bottlenecks
The U.S. economy lost over $42 billion in 2019 as trucks packed with goods and products got snarled in traffic, a cost borne throughout the entire economy. Data released in late 2020 by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and analyzed by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) shows:
- Congestion costs on the Interstate Highway System grew 25 percent over the last two years—from $12 billion in 2017 to over $15 billion in 2019.
- Major chokepoints include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Houston, Nashville, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.
- Highway freight shipments collectively experienced over 27 million days of delay in 2019, the equivalent of nearly 75,000 years, with over one-third of the lost time occurring on the Interstates.
Nearly 73 percent of the value of domestic freight is shipped via truck and the value of truck shipments is expected to more than double by 2045, according to ARTBA’s analysis of FHWA’s data. The agency calculates the delay per mile to quantify the cost of bottlenecks across major corridors and compare performance from year to year.
Read the full report here.
AMERICA’S INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM AT 65: Meeting America’s Transportation Needs with a Reliable, Safe & Well-Maintained National Highway Network
At sixty-five years old, an age at which many Americans are considering retirement and
reduced workloads, the Interstate Highway System is deteriorating, its traffic load of cars and trucks continues to increase, and the system lacks an adequate plan for its long-term health.
The Interstate Highway System remains the workhorse of the U.S. transportation system:
heavily traveled and providing the most important link in the nation’s supply chain, and the primary connection between and within urban communities. The importance of the Interstate Highway System and the reliable movement of goods it provides was heightened during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recovery. But, America’s Interstate highways are wearing out and showing
signs of their advanced age, often heavily congested, and in need of significant reconstruction,
modernization and expansion.
Read the full report here.
The U.S. Railroads and COVID-19: Keeping Supply Chains Moving
Northwestern University Transportation Center
The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 marked a challenging time for the country and the U.S. freight industry. Manufacturing slowed, consumer purchasing patterns changed, and for many, shopping moved online. The freight industry suffered a sharp decline in shipments, followed by a surprisingly quick rise. The movement of goods by freight rail had to quickly adapt to meet dynamically changing demand and volatile supply patterns. Despite this disruption, freight rail showed a great deal of resilience and reliability. This report addresses how the rail industry met the challenge of this whiplash in demand, explores impediments to performance during this period and looks beyond the crisis towards the future for the rail sector.
The assessment outlined in this report was completed by researchers at Northwestern University’s Transportation Center (NUTC). The results show how the U.S. freight rail industry was an essential component of pandemic resilience, demonstrating a high level of adaptability to meet consumer and business demands.
Read the full report here.