In this issue:
The Trade Corridor Bulletin
Volume 17 – No. 2 | February 2023
118th Congress Revises Committee Rosters, First T&I Hearing Focuses on Supply Chains
By: CAGTC Staff
House T&I Committee Roster
On the eve of their first hearing of the 118th Congress, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) finalized its membership and subcommittee rosters. Led by Chair Sam Graves (R-MO) and Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA), the committee contains 35 Republicans and 30 Democrats.
About one-third of the Committee’s makeup is new to the portfolio, with 22 of its 65 members joining the T&I Committee in the 118th Congress: Burgess Owens (R-UT), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Rudy Yakym (R-IN), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Aaron Bean (R-FL), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), Mike Collins (R-GA), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Chuck Edwards (R-NC), John James (R-MI), Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Eric Burlison (R-MO), John Duarte (R-CA), Mike Ezell (R-MS), Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), Rob Menendez (D-NJ), Val Hoyle (D-OR), Emilia Sykes (D-OH), Hillary Scholten (D-MI), and Valerie Foushee (D-NC).
The subcommittee leadership for the 118th Congress is detailed below.
- Subcommittee on Aviation:
- Chair: Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA)
- Ranking Member: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
- Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation:
- Chair: Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL)
- Ranking Member: Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA)
- Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management:
- Chair: Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)
- Ranking Member: Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
- Subcommittee on Highways and Transit:
- Chair: Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR)
- Ranking Member: Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
- Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials:
- Chair: Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX)
- Ranking Member: Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ)
- Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment:
- Chair: Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
- Ranking Member: Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Senate Committee Rosters
While the Senate committees are still finalizing their subcommittee leadership and members, leadership released full committee rosters. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is chaired again by Senator Cantwell (D-WA), while Senator Cruz (R-TX) replaced Senator Wicker (R-MS) as ranking member. The committee added and lost a handful of members. Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Blunt (R-MO), Lee (R-UT), Johnson (R-WI), and Scott (R-FL) all left the committee and were superseded by Senators Welch (D-VT), Budd (R-NC), Schmitt (R-MO), and Vance (R-OH).
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works leadership remained unchanged since last Congress, with Senator Carper (D-DE) chairing the committee and Senator Capito (R-WV) serving as ranking member. However, there were some changes to the membership roster – Senators Duckworth (D-IL), Inhofe (R-OK), Shelby (R-AL), and Ernst (R-IA) all left the committee and were replaced by Senators Fetterman (D-PA), Mullin (R-OK), and Ricketts (R-NE). Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) will no longer chair the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Instead, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) is the subcommittee chair and Senator Cramer (R-ND) is the ranking member.
House T&I Committee Examines Supply Chain Challenges & Infrastructure in First Hearing of 118th Congress
On February 1, the T&I committee hosted its first hearing of the year, providing insight into lawmakers' policy priorities for the 118th Congress. The hearing, titled “The State of Transportation Infrastructure and Supply Chain Challenges,” included testimony from representatives of the American Trucking Associations, Association of American Railroads, Port Houston, Hamilton Construction Company, and AFL-CIO.
During the hearing, Chair Graves discussed how vulnerabilities in the transportation network were revealed during COVID-19 and “only made worse by stifling regulations.” He stressed that the committee must ensure funds go toward projects improving supply chain efficiency and guarantee dollars are spent wisely. In addition to BIL oversight, other Republican committee members stressed the need to reduce delays and inefficiencies in the federal permitting process.
Ranking Member Larsen highlighted the Democrat policy priorities for the new Congress, including: promoting investments to create a cleaner, safer, and more accessible transportation network; ensuring investments create jobs; building community capacity as infrastructure dollars are distributed; protecting the environment; and boosting the economic sustainability and competitiveness of the U.S.
Other committee members asked about topics ranging from the speed of funding delivery to what issues the committee should prioritize for the new Congress. Witnesses expressed concerns about the impacts of inflation on the planning and cost of infrastructure projects, which is exacerbated by long funding delivery timelines. Witnesses advocated for improved funding delivery timeframes, directing BIL funding toward significant freight projects that address supply chain bottlenecks, and increased streamlining and transparency in the permitting process.
President Biden Highlights Freight During State of the Union
By: CAGTC Staff
On February 7, President Biden provided the second State of the Union address of his presidency. President Biden recognized that the U.S. “used to be number one in the world in infrastructure” but “sunk to thirteenth in the world” and took the opportunity to tout some early successes of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
President Biden announced that, already, the BIL funded over 20,000 projects to help the U.S. improve its railways, ports, highways, airports, and bridges. When discussing infrastructure improvements, President Biden specifically noted the importance of enhancing freight routes. He explained that the BIL funded projects such as the Brent Spence Bridge, which is “one of the nation’s most congested freight routes, carrying $2 billion worth of freight every single day.”
In response to President Biden’s State of the Union, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Sam Graves (R-MO) criticized the Biden Administration’s spending policies, asserting that funding is not going toward “the critical infrastructure that can improve the supply chain and help lower the costs of goods.” He stated that Americans are still experiencing negative ramifications of supply chain inefficiencies and inflation; therefore, as committee chair, he would prioritize improving supply chains and addressing critical infrastructure needs.
Ranking Member of the House Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA) praised President Biden’s speech, stating that the “state of our union is strong thanks in part to historic investments that will meet the nation’s infrastructure needs for decades to come, grow our middle class and strengthen our economic competitiveness.” As ranking member, he added that he would ensure the BIL is implemented to benefit all Americans and emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in Congress.
President Biden Announces First of its Kind Infrastructure Investment for Nine Nationally Significant Mega Projects
On January 31, President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the new National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) discretionary grant program for nine projects across the country. These projects will create good-paying jobs, grow the economy, strengthen supply chains, improve mobility for residents, and make our transportation systems safer for all users.
This year’s selected projects include:
- $250 million for Brent Spence Bridge improvements (Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY): This critical freight corridor over the Ohio River sees over $400 billion in freight movement annually. It is among the worst truck bottlenecks in the nation. This Mega award will support critical improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge and fund the construction of a new bridge alongside the existing bridge to relieve congestion and improve travel time reliability – supporting the regional economy.
- $292 million for Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3 (New York, NY): This award will help fund the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new Hudson River Tunnel and lay the groundwork for the much-anticipated Gateway Project. Once completed, the future Hudson Tunnel project will improve commute times, Amtrak reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and support the NEC regional economy, which is home to 17% of the U.S. population. Amtrak expects the Hudson Tunnel project will result in 72,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training.
- $150 million to replace the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge (Calcasieu Parish, LA): The existing bridge, constructed before the Interstate Highway System, is structurally and functionally deficient, resulting in significant freight bottlenecks. The new bridge will relieve congestion and improve regional mobility, supply chain efficiency, and safety. A workforce agreement will be created for the project that includes ways to target jobs and training opportunities to underserved communities.
- $60 million to make improvements to the I-10 Freight Corridor (Diamondhead, MS): The funding will widen I-10 from four to six lanes from just west of Diamondhead. This project will strengthen access to locations across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and major southern cities, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston and Mobile. Additionally, the project will promote future economic growth, including freight industries that also support international trade, and vitality in the region.
Read the full release here.
USDOT Announces More Than $660 Million Available Through the Port Infrastructure Development Program
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) making available more than $662 million in Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 funding for MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).
The PIDP investment will modernize our nation’s ports and help strengthen our supply chains for generations to come, helping to reduce shipping time, costs, and ultimately the costs of goods for the American people. The President’s infrastructure package provides $450 million annually in funding for the Program.
MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program discretionary grants help eligible applicants including port authorities, states, local governments, indigenous Tribal nations, counties, and other eligible entities complete critical port and port-related infrastructure projects. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to support projects that improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through ports and intermodal connections to ports. MARAD will also consider how projects address climate change and sustainability, equity, and workforce development objectives.
Read the full release here.
Blue Water Industries, a leading national bulk materials supplier has entered into an agreement with Port Canaveral terminal operator Ambassador Services International (ASI) to import between 400,000 to 800,000 metric tons annually of various sized aggregate through Port Canaveral. Scheduled deliveries of the products originating in eastern Canada will arrive at Port Canaveral monthly and distributed throughout Florida and the southeastern United States for use in roadway construction projects.
“This is solid cargo business for our Port and a great business win for our partners at Ambassador,” stated Port CEO, Capt. John Murray. “Our Port’s location and ASI’s operation expansion provided Blue Water with a winning opportunity to more efficiently move product from point of origin to point of use.”
Port Canaveral is a major East Coast port with a long history of handling a broad mix of bulk and breakbulk cargos, including aggregates, petroleum products, lumber and building materials, and other commodities. Cargo throughput numbers at the Port have been steadily increasing year over year, hitting new high volumes of tonnage in the last fiscal year (2022).
Read the full release here.
HNTB to design Connecticut’s Gold Star Memorial Bridge
HNTB Corporation has been awarded a design contract by Connecticut Department of Transportation for the rehabilitation of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which carries 42,600 vehicles per day on Interstate 95 over the Thames River in New London and Groton, Connecticut. The existing 6,000-foot-long northbound structure is the state’s largest and most complex bridge.
“HNTB’s long-standing history of complex bridge design and technical excellence have helped bridge communities throughout Connecticut,” said Jacob Argiro, HNTB vice president and Connecticut office leader.
Funding for the rehabilitation project will come from a $158 million U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration Large Bridge Grant. As a result of this grant, future construction phases are accelerated, and the bridge is expected to be fully operational a year earlier.
Read the full release here.
CBO's Budget Options to Improve Trust Fund Solvency
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently published its latest Options for Reducing the Deficit reports, outlining 76 policy options across two reports and their impact on the federal budget over ten years. CBO identified 27 policy changes – including changes to spending and revenue – that could meaningfully improve the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund, the Social Security trust funds, or the Highway Trust Fund.
CBO currently projects Highway Trust Fund depletion by 2027, Medicare HI trust fund insolvency by 2030, and Social Security trust fund exhaustion by 2033. Current law dictates that trust fund spending cannot exceed dedicated revenue once there are no trust funds reserves; so upon exhaustion, Social Security benefits are slated to be cut across the board by 23 percent while HI spending by 10 percent and highway spending by 45 percent. Adopting some of the options presented in CBO's report would not only delay or avoid looming insolvency but could also help to improve economic growth and help put the debt on a more sustainable long-term path.
Read the full release here.
ATRI Releases Annual List of Top 100 Truck Bottlenecks
The American Transportation Research Institute released its 12th annual list highlighting the most congested bottlenecks for trucks in America.
The 2023 Top Truck Bottleneck List measures the level of truck-involved congestion at over 300 locations on the national highway system. The analysis, based on an extensive database of freight truck GPS data, uses several customized software applications and analysis methods, along with terabytes of data from trucking operations to produce a congestion impact ranking for each location. ATRI’s truck GPS data is also used to support numerous state and federal freight mobility initiatives. The bottleneck locations detailed in this latest ATRI list represent the top 100 congested locations, although ATRI continuously monitors more than 300 freight-critical locations.
For the fifth year in a row, the intersection of I-95 and SR 4 in Fort Lee, New Jersey is once again the Number One freight bottleneck in the country. The remaining Top 10 bottlenecks include:
- Chicago: I-294 at I-290/I-88
- Houston: I-45 at I-69/US 59
- Atlanta: I-285 at I-85 (North)
- Atlanta: I-20 at I-285 (West)
- Chicago: I-290 at I-90/I-94
- Los Angeles: SR 60 at SR 57
- Los Angeles: I-710 at I-105
- Nashville: I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East)
- San Bernardino, California: I-10 at I-15
Read the full release here.