Smith Alumna Shaping Transportation Legislation
The federal government’s Highway Trust Fund is going broke. That’s a problem,
because monies in the Trust Fund are used to maintain and expand our nation’s
roads and bridges. Currently federal gas taxes are the primary funding
mechanism. But recently these proceeds have decreased because higher fuel prices
have caused people to cut down on the amount of gas they’re buying, and due to
the rise of alternate fuels.
Legislation governing the Highway Trust Fund and infrastructure investment is
up for renewal in September, and the cargo transportation industry needs a seat
at the table during the discussion, says Joni Casey ’74, MBA ’79, president and
CEO of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). Casey has 25 years’
experience working at transportation trade associations and dealing with these
kinds of issues.
IANA’s membership comprises railroads, trucking companies, ocean carriers,
and third-party logistics providers that move freight. “Because we have such
diverse constituents, it can be hard to build consensus, but when we do it can
be pretty compelling,” says Casey, who is working with lawmakers and industry
leaders to develop policy positions for congressional consideration.
Potential mechanisms to augment the diminishing fund might include an
increase in diesel fuel taxes and the creation of tax credits for private sector
investment, says Casey: “Additional infrastructure is a must, and investments
that generate more capacity could also create jobs and boost the sluggish
economy, as well as afford IANA’s member companies the opportunity to
transport cargo in safer and more effective ways.”