Infrastrucuture is "fertile ground" where things can get done in a divided Congress, Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) told attendees at Jump Start 19, a transportation industry conference sponsored by freight-pricing software firm SMC3, January 28 in Atlanta.
But Ferguson said much work has to be done on the issue at both the legislative and executive levels first, including determining a list of priorities and finding dedicated revenue streams for projects.
Ferguson, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told attendees he expects infrastructure legislation taken up in the new Congress to focus on maintenance rather than new projects, saying that maintaining what is already in place "has to be the first priority."
He said there is an urgency in Washington to get something done on the issue this year.
Ferguson's sentiments echo those of other lawmakers and industry leaders. Earlier this year, for instance, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) listed infrastructure improvements as one of its top legislative priorities in 2019, pointing to the group's efforts to raise awareness about port inefficiencies as well as trucking-industry issues.
"Transportation has been very bipartisan, and we've been at the forefront advocating [for infrastructure improvements]," RILA's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Austen Jensen told DC Velocity earlier this month. "Unfortunately, the last Congress was not able to get anything off the ground. But this is one of the areas you may see the divided government come together [this year]."
Another Jump Start 19 speaker, Linda Fonkoue of Deere & Company, pointed to infrastructure as an area where industry leaders can come together to lobby Congress for much-needed change. Fonkoue is global supply base manager, logistics for Deere & Company. She talked about a range of industry trends in her speech opening the SMC3 conference, emphasizing the need for more industry-wide collaboration on infrastructure and other issues.
"Shippers and logistics providers should come together with a stronger voice," she told attendees.
Jump Start 19 runs January 28-30, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly hotel.