U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation & Infrastructure, held a subcommittee hearing yesterday entitled “Freight Movement: Assessing Where We are Now and Where We Need to Go.” This hearing was especially timely as the Oklahoma Freight Transportation plan received federal approval this week.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you all for being here today. I’d like to thank my friend, Ranking Member Cardin, and his staff for their help in getting this hearing together. In the new year, the president and Congress will be shifting our focus to infrastructure.
I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on this committee as we work to put together legislation that will benefit the users of our transportation networks and the economy.
Since President Trump has been in office, we’ve seen three percent growth in the economy, we’ve added over two million jobs, and consumer confidence has sky rocketed. However, the economy will only continue to grow if our infrastructure is maintained and expanded to meet our future needs.
In 2015, over 18 billion tons of freight worth $19 trillion moved over our highways, railways, waterways, and through the air. These numbers are only expected to grow with an estimated 25 billion tons of freight movement by 2045 worth an estimated $37 trillion. Yet when freight is delayed on congested highways, diverted around structurally deficient bridges, or awaiting movement at our ports and on our waterways, an estimated $27 billion annually in increased costs are borne by businesses, raising prices on consumer goods.
The more delays we see, the further behind we will become.
According to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. ranks 12th in overall infrastructure quality and the American Society of Civil Engineers scored our infrastructure at a D+ earlier this year, estimating that the we need to spend close to $2 trillion in the next 10 years to improve all of our infrastructure and the overall economy. In order to address this need, last Congress passed the FAST Act which authorized $305 billion over 5 years.
The FAST Act also established a $6.3 billion freight formula program for states to invest in freight projects on the National Highway Freight Network and created a $4.5 billion over 5 years grant program to improve the safety and movement of freight.
Though the FAST Act was the largest transportation authorization in a decade, we have more work to do before we close the gap between our funding and our needs.
I’m looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today to learn more about those needs and how they might be addressed. The president and his administration are committed to working with Congress and all the various stakeholders across the country to address those needs and continue to grow our economy.
I am ready to get to work on this priority of his and mine and I know many others on this committee and on both sides of the Capitol are too.