A high-powered group of CEOs from the some of the biggest names in the U.S. freight sector told leaders of Congress they want to see “a renewed commitment” from lawmakers to fix ailing surface transportation networks.
The group includes 20 top executives from major rail, trucking and parcel carriers, key transport equipment suppliers, plus construction firms and shippers of heavy materials. Many companies on the list are also big exporters.
Among the signers: Doug Oberhelman of Caterpillar, Patricia Woertz of Archer Daniels Midland, rail execs Matthew Rose of BNSF Railway and Charles Moorman of Norfolk Southern, trucker Douglas Stotlar of Con-way and Scott Davis of UPS.
“Our transportation infrastructure has become inadequate to meet the needs of the 21st Century economy,” the group wrote. “We must prioritize and invest in our aging infrastructure now if we are to maintain our economic competitiveness and leadership in the global economy.”
The group addressed the letter to the top two Democrats and Republicans in both the Senate and House: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plus House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Some other companies whose CEOs signed on were truck builder Cummins, equipment or technology suppliers Deere, Martin Marietta, Honeywell and Trimble Navigation, plus shippers Dow Chemical, Arch Coal, Corning, Peabody Energy and Vulcan Materials.
“Our companies and employees are major users of the U.S. highway, bridge, rail, air and public transportation systems,” the corporate chiefs told congressional leaders. “We depend on the ability to move products and materials quickly and efficiently as part of our everyday operations. An efficient and reliable transportation network is integral to the success of our supply chain.”
The letter comes as President Obama is trying to build support for his infrastructure-heavy jobs plan, and after Congress extended current surface transport spending levels through next March and aviation through January. Transport policy specialists fear that could mean Congress may avoid any new action on those measures until next year, and then delay them further to get past the 2012 elections.
But the CEOs emphasized that Congress should focus on doing more than just push federal investment decisions down the road.
They did not address Obama’s transport spending ideas. But they said “passage of a well funded, multi-year reauthorization of the federal highway and public transportation programs would provide some needed stability in an uncertain business environment, and should be a key element of a pro-growth agenda.”