Senator Harry Reid
Hearing on Freight Transportation and Intermodal Facilities
Monday, September 9, 2002
Welcome to todayís hearing on freight transportation issues.† I am pleased to co-chair this hearing with Senator Breaux and the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine he chairs.† Solving Americaís freight and passenger transportation problems will require a comprehensive, intermodal, and flexible approach.† Jurisdiction over surface transportation programs is divided between the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Banking Committee, and the Commerce Committee, and we will have to closely coordinate our efforts.† This joint hearing is an important example of that cooperation, and I look forward to working closely with Senator Breaux and our other partners throughout the TEA-21 reauthorization process.
In addition to working with the Commerce and Banking Committees on policy issues, I intend to work closely with the Finance, Budget, and Appropriations Committees on funding issues.† While we have a lot of important policy work ahead of us, we cannot begin to address the significant problems facing our nationís surface transportation system without adequate funding.† Each of these Committees will be an important partner in our efforts to secure the additional funding and budget protection necessary to write a transportation bill that addresses our nationís significant highway, transit, and rail infrastructure needs.
One particular funding need that we will address at our hearing today is freight transportation.† The efficient transportation of freight is essential to our nationís economic growth and global competitiveness.† Nearly 10 trillion dollars worth of freight is transported each year on our roads, railroads, and waterways.† We depend on our transportation system to get everything -- from food and other agricultural products to consumer goods to construction materials to coal -- to its destination.
Freight transportation is expected to double in the next twenty years, as the economy grows and international trade increases.† This growth in freight traffic will vastly outpace the growth of our road and rail systems and threatens to overwhelm our transportation infrastructure.
Already, key bottlenecks exist at road and rail connections to major U.S. seaports, at border crossings with Canada and Mexico, and in metropolitan areas where roads and rail infrastructures are stretched beyond their capacity.
This next transportation bill will have to address these capacity issues and improve access to intermodal facilities if we are to keep our economy moving and maintain our leadership in international trade.†
In addition, we must address operational issues that impact the reliability of our transportation system.† Intelligent Transportation Systems will play a crucial role in improving the reliability of our transportation infrastructure and ensuring the flow of up-to-the-minute information to users and managers.
We are fortunate to have a number of distinguished witnesses with us today to provide our Committees with insights into the freight challenges we face and, we hope, some proposed solutions to these problems.
One witness I would like to particularly thank for making the trip to be here is Katie Dusenberry, who chairs the Arizona State Transportation Board.† Ms. Dusenberry will be testifying on an issue that is of vital importance to my state and the entire Southwestern region -- the closure of the Hoover Dam to truck traffic due to post-September 11th† security concerns.
As a result of the closure of the Hoover Dam bridge to freight traffic, over 2,100 trucks per day are now detoured 23 miles or more.† To address this problem, the states of Arizona and Nevada are working together, and with the Federal government, to build a Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.† This bridge is essential to freight movements on the CANAMEX corridor and is a top priority for my state.† The Department of Interior has identified the Hoover Dam bypass project as its number one national security priority.
I am pleased that Ms. Dusenberry has joined us to provide her expert testimony on this project.
Again, thank you to all of our witnesses for your participation today.† Our first panel will consist of Associate Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Shane, who is also the Director of the Office of Intermodalism, and Jay Etta Hecker from the U.S. General Accounting Office.† Thank you for agreeing to be with us today and I look forward to your testimony.