Letters: Raymond still boosts SEA-21

Letters: Raymond still boosts SEA-21

To the Editor:

I am writing to take exception to Peter Tirschwell's characterization of my commitment to the SEA-21 legislative initiative now under consideration by the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council.

I have not spent the last three years of my MTSNAC Chairmanship working on this concept to give up now. On the contrary, SEA-21 is alive and well - within the Administration and Congress.

The work of the MTS National Advisory Council has underscored Secretary of Transportation [Norman] Mineta's stated intention to address the impending capacity crunch and aging infrastructure facing our nation's ports and waterways. In fact, the Secretary has said, on numerous occasions, that he wants his legacy to the Department to be a SEA-21 legislative initiative - legislation that will level the modal playing field and develop a truly intermodal transportation system for our nation. And, that is exactly what the MTS National Advisory Council has been working to give him.

Over the last two years the Secretary's MTSNAC has undertaken an MTS national needs study to develop a national perspective on marine transportation needs and the Council has begun to put together the elements of a legislative proposal for the Secretary that will address these needs. The report Mr. Tirschwell so liberally quotes throughout his article is but one segment of our overall legislative work product for the Department of Transportation. It never was intended to be the final word on SEA-21 to the Secretary and will be followed up by a more detailed proposal following the Council's May meeting.

I think that it is extremely important to point out that the Secretary, the Council, and the vast majority of the maritime community are in this for the long haul. Because, as we all know, these types of legislative proposals are not built in a day or even one congressional session. It took years to finally pass the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, at least 10 years to pass AIR-21, and it was13 years before there was final Congressional action on the Maritime Security Program.

All of those initiatives had their critics, innovative legislative efforts always do. But, they all were eventually successful simply because they were the right things to do. SEA-21 is the right thing for our both our economic and national security - it has my full support.

Chuck Raymond

Chairman

Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council

(Editor's note: Raymond is chairman and chief executive of Horizon Lines LLC.)