Overview of the United States' Freight Transportation System
Hearing of the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), Chairman
Chairman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN)
Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation
Hearing on Overview of the United States’ Freight Transportation System
April 24, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
Good morning and welcome to the first hearing of the “Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation.”
Rule 18 of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee rules allows the Chairman, with the concurrence of the ranking member, to designate a special panel to inquire into any matter within the Committee’s jurisdiction.
Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member Rahall have designated this panel to examine the current state of freight transportation in the United States and how improving freight transportation can strengthen the United States economy.
I am honored to be selected to chair this Special Panel and I am excited to be working with Congressman Nadler from New York as the Panel’s Ranking Member.
The safe and efficient movement of freight throughout the Nation impacts the day-to-day lives of every American. From the clothes you wear to the car you drive to the food you eat, the freight transportation system impacts all aspects of everyday life.
In 2011, the U.S. transportation system moved 17.6 billion tons of goods, valued at over $18.8 trillion.
In the past, the conversation about freight transportation has focused on specific modes of transportation. However, given the multi-modal nature of freight movement, it is important to examine the system as a whole.
Goods frequently move back and forth between ocean vessels, highways, railroads, air carriers, inland waterways, ports, and pipelines.
Bottlenecks arising at any point on the system can seriously impede freight mobility and drive up the cost of the goods impacted.
For this reason, improving the efficient and safe flow of freight across all modes of transportation is critical to the health of the United States economy and the future of the Nation’s global competitiveness.
The purpose of this Panel is to provide recommendations to the Committee on ways to modernize the freight network and make the United States competitive in the 21st Century. I am excited about the work we will do over the next 6 months, and I am glad that we have such a talented, diverse group of Members serving on the Panel.
We also have a wonderful group of witnesses before us, today. I thank each of you for joining us to discuss this important issue.
First, we have Fred Smith from FedEx. FedEx celebrated its 40th anniversary last week. The company was born small, delivering 186 packages its first day, and has now grown to more than 9 million daily shipments – thus becoming an integral part of the global economy. Over 300,000 FedEx team members work day in and day out to deliver exceptional service and help communities around the world in times of crises.
Fred Smith founded FedEx, an idea he formed during his college years. He has been central to shaping the company into what it is today, connecting more than 220 countries and territories. Mr. Smith, I congratulate you on this milestone, and I thank you for being here.
Next, we have Wick Moorman from Norfolk Southern, a Class 1 railroad. Railroads carry more freight than any other mode of surface transportation over long distances. Railroad companies operate on more than 200,000 miles of tracks throughout the Nation. Last year alone, the freight railroads spent almost $14 billion of their own private capital to improve and expand their networks.
Derek Leathers is the President of Werner Enterprises, which operates one of the largest trucking fleets in the world. More than 250 million trucks carry freight on the highway system each year. Not every community has a railroad, airport, waterway, or port nearby, but people live, work, and shop along the Nation’s four million miles of highways and roads. As a result, a consumer good is often transported on the highway system for at least part of its journey.
Jim Newsome is here as the President of the South Carolina Ports Authority, which operates the port in Charleston, South Carolina. But Jim also has extensive experience as a senior executive in the container shipping industry. As such, he can offer a unique perspective on maritime transportation issues.
Finally, Ed Wytkind is joining us from the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. Transportation workers play a key role in the performance of the freight system, and I am glad that Ed is here today to discuss their role in improving freight transportation.