On August 10, 2021, the United States Senate approved legislation that is intended to overhaul and modernize the nation’s deficient freight corridors, mobility networks, and transit systems. In a 69-30 vote, bipartisan negotiations helped to secure approval of the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Billions in funds are dedicated to addressing the freight system needs of both the rural and urban freight corridors, from safety to connectivity. What does this mean for the nation’s freight industry? How does this new infrastructure bill benefit the freight industry? Let’s find out.
Improvement in Transportation System: Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, Etc.
The infrastructure legislation would allocate roughly $550 billion in new funds to improve bridges, highways, tunnels, and a deteriorating transportation system that needs significant upgrades. Specifically, according to Transport Topics, $100 billion would go towards roads and bridges, $66 billion towards freight and passenger rail, another $65 billion for broadband internet, $46 billion to beef up measures against climate change and strengthen weather-resiliency, operations, while $39 billion would be allocated for transit and another $25 billion for airports.
Trucking Logistics Could Get A Jolt
A lot of funding goes into trucking logistics yearly, which means that trucks need to get to and from their destination without much hassle. Infrastructure improvements would be aimed at improving efficiency as trucks make their journey to their intended destinations. Emphasis would be placed on reducing traffic and hazard-based braking, which would prove beneficial in enhancing time efficiency and reducing fuel costs associated with fixed-distance trips. Goals would also include a reduction in bottlenecks, speeding up commerce, and the delivery of goods with greater efficiency.
Focus on Safety
According to Policy Advice, since 2009, there has been a 52% increase in truck accidents, while 68% of all truck fatalities are passenger vehicle occupants, contributing to America’s high road fatalities. The legislation would put $11 billion towards transportation safety programs, which includes a $5 billion Safe Streets for All program to help minimize crashes and fatalities across states and localities. A new grant program would allow community-owned utilities to perform the replacement of leaky and obsolete cast iron and bare steel natural gas pipelines, aimed towards improving the safety of people and vehicles utilizing the transportation system. Highway safety and truck safety, along with pipeline and hazardous materials safety would be addressed.
Trucking policy within the legislation seeks to approve an apprenticeship for truckers under the age of 21, which would grant them the opportunity to operate commercial vehicles interstate, and also create a truck-leasing task force. Research would also be directed towards assessing the effectiveness of side-underride guards for commercial vehicles and analyzing the effectiveness of electronic logging devices. As part of the policy, certain commercial motor vehicles would be required to be equipped with an automatic emergency braking system.
The new infrastructure bill is promising and has the potential to dramatically improve the freight industry. There is no doubt that the foresight industry has many concerning issues that need to be addressed. The “build back better” agenda is just what the nation’s transportation hubs need to drive competition, improve safety and efficiency, and ensure long-term growth.
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