November 25, 2008

Shippers willing to pay for infrastructure improvements, NITL president says

By DC Velocity Staff

The nation's shippers could accept higher user fees or an increase in diesel fuel taxes to help finance badly needed improvements to the nation's infrastructure, NITL President Bruce J. Carlton said at the group's meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

Without going into specifics, Carlton said "users of transport services are willing to pay a higher fee" to fund a modernized infrastructure. They would also be more amenable than in the past to accept an increase in diesel fuel taxes, Carlton added. "Shippers get it," he said.

Carlton said the league would be working on a comprehensive legislative initiative to revamp the nation's crumbling network of roads, bridges, and tunnels. "It is our number one legislative project," he said. The initiative, one of the most ambitious in NITL's 101-year history, will lay out a 20- to 30-year blueprint for infrastructure modernization. Asked if the league will reach out to other groups, including carrier interests, for cooperation, Carlton replied, "we will identify parties who agree with our point of view."

Infrastructure issues are expected to take on increased importance in the incoming Obama administration and on Capitol Hill. Despite that, Washington insiders attending the conference predict it will take at least two years for any infrastructure legislation to reach President-Elect Barack Obama's desk.