The Week

The Week

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

Quote of the week: "We''re urging folks to press on and test the president''s veto." -- Greg Cohen, senior vice president for policy and government affairs at the American Highway Users Alliance.

Transportation lobbyists, optimistic they can overcome the president''s threatened veto, are pushing hard for highway funding levels well above the $256 billion limit set by the White House. Industry groups are shooting for legislation worth $318 billion or more over six years. But how long and how far will Republican lawmakers be willing to defy the White House in an election year?

The race is on to replace Gregory L. Quesnel who is retiring as president and CEO of CNF, the $5.1 billion transport concern. CNF says it will look inside and outside the company for a replacement. Among the potential internal candidates are Jerry Detter, chief of CNF''s highly profitable Con-Way Transportation Services unit; John Williford, head of Menlo Worldwide; and current CFO Chutta Ratnathicam.

It''s rare that the top executives at UPS, FedEx and DHL sing from the same song-sheet, but when they testified on Capitol Hill recently they were unified in their opposition to granting greater ratemaking flexibility and other competitive freedoms to the U.S. Postal Service. FedEx Chairman, President and CEO Frederick W. Smith told Congress his top priority is "an appropriate firewall" between the mail monopoly and the competitive package and parcel services USPS offers.

Wholesale-distribution is not for the faint-hearted. Under pressure from manufacturers and buyers to improve service levels and offer ways to cut costs, wholesale-distributors also face increasing competition from 3PLs. In order to survive, distributors are offering nontraditional services such as supply-chain management.

More advanced and robust technology is giving transport operators the chance to centralize computer networks and deliver data and freight faster for shippers. The Internet is extending information networks right to customers'' desks and docks and new management tools help keep networks - and trucks - running.

As congestion in Southern California worsens, the San Francisco Bay area is increasing its prominence as a major transportation hub. The east side of the bay in particular is a staging ground for cargo moved by the railroads, UPS and third-party logistics providers. The region won''t overtake Los Angeles-Long Beach, but it is becoming a more important alternative gateway for intermodal traffic.

Is the government''s methodology determining truck fleet safety ratings broken? The Department of Transportation''s inspector general, Kenneth Mead, thinks so. A review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration''s SafeStat program found several flaws that the IG wants fixed. FMCSA agrees in part that SafeStat could be made better.

Celadon Group, an Indianapolis-based truckload carrier that made its mark hauling in and out of Mexico, says it will provide trucking services to suppliers involved with rebuilding efforts in Iraq through a joint venture with Kuwaiti investors.

Shippers on both sides of the border were looking for alternative ways to ship goods as the strike against Canadian National Railway gained steam last week. Automotive, intermodal and carload shippers began experiencing service delays almost immediately. Shippers said some freight was being shifted to the highways.

Canadian Pacific Railway exits the traditional trailer-on-flatcar business March 1 to concentrate on its more lucrative container business. The move reflects the rail industry''s desire to cut costs by making piggyback trailers a smaller part of its portfolios and replacing them with containers. CP will maintain its "Expressway" service that uses specially designed articulated platform cars to move trailers between hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Detroit.

Attempts to raise the foreign ownership limit in U.S. airlines didn''t fly in Congress last year, but U.S. officials are trying again. They offered to ease ownership restrictions in bilateral aviation talks with EU negotiators last month. U.S. cargo carriers wanted EU officials to ease night-flying restrictions but no decision was announced on that front.

A $148.4 million dredging project that would deepen parts of the Columbia River channel is moving ahead after 14 years of planning and that''s good news for a coalition of six ports including the Port of Portland in Oregon. Sections of the 103.5-mile channel aren''t deep enough for today''s deep-draft container ships and bulk cargo ships. Funding still is problematic as the project''s backers seek more federal support.