Support in Congress for the reintroduced Safe & Efficient Transportation Act (HR 612) had doubled to 12 co-sponsors within three weeks of its introduction, with four Democrats and eight Republicans now on record as supporting the bill. FRA, along with other members of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, has been visiting offices of new members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to place the points favoring SETA before staff members charged to make recommendations.
Like the similar bill introduced in the last Congress, this year’s SETA would provide federal authorization for states to opt to allow six-axle semi-trucks on the Interstate system with gross vehicle weights up to 97,000 pounds, provided they pay a supplement to the federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.
Following SETA’s February 12 introduction, the American Association of Railroads (AAR) quickly sent every member of Congress a letter, selectively citing “research” AAR alleges demonstrates road wear, bridge wear, safety hazards, the public’s rejection of “big” trucks, and—the salient point from AAR’s perspective—the fear that productive trucks would divert freight from competing transport modes. AAR’s letter suggests that co-sponsoring SETA before the federal Department of Transportation releases its pending study of impacts (due in late 2014) would be “premature.”
On the contrary, responded the Coalition for Transportation Productivity: “HR 612 is long overdue.”CTP’s February 28 letter, signed by 68 associations and 116 businesses, notes:
• the long catalogue of research supporting SETA’s configuration,
• that research’s actual findings with respect to safety, road wear, and bridge impacts,
• and—with respect to possible diversion from rail—notes that even the study that AAR cites projects that such diversion would only occur if rail failed to respond competitively: “Opponents of SETA area really asking Congress to block the introduction of more productive trucks in order to reduce the pressure on the rail industry to offer competitive rates.”
Please contact your member of Congress, and ask him or her to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Safe & Efficient Transportation Act! It’s easy, if you use FRA’s “Write Your Legislator” module, which provides a letter template, which you can edit to suit your own views, and—once you have approved the message—automatically sends your request by e-mail directly to your House member.
Background at this link.