Mike Williams | President, AGX Freight
We have a lot of bridges to mend in our country. I mean, literally, a lot of bridges. The current administration’s infrastructure initiative, The American Jobs Plan, proposes to fix over 10,000 bridges in the US, including a focus on the ten most economically significant in need of reconstruction.
America is at a crossroads. Our country has failing roads and bridges and the proposed infrastructure initiative is an invitation to pick up a shovel and begin the hard work needed to turn things around. It might also represent the best chance we have to reinforce our democracy.
Our country is resilient when setbacks happen and we are courageous in the face of adversity. When our backs are against the wall, whether it’s a threat to our national security, natural catastrophe or disease, together, we have achieved more collectively than we could have as individuals. A great example of this is the response of our supply chain to covid-19 related challenges over the last year. Not only did the freight sector recover quickly and thrive as more Americans shopped from home, but we helped deploy nearly 275 million total vaccine doses in a matter of months.
The pandemic showed us that our reliance on commerce and the strength of our supply chain does not have to be diminished by a global health catastrophe. If anything, it clarified what we in the transportation industry already knew, that the economy and more broadly speaking, the livelihood of Americans are dependent on a fully functioning and safe transportation sector. Now that we are transitioning from lock-down to something approaching pre-pandemic norms of living, we should consider the benefit of focusing our efforts and investment on the health of our national infrastructure.
If we think of America as a living organism, then its network of highways and roads are the circulatory system. The transportation & logistics industry is the heartbeat of our country, and we should no more neglect our highways, bridges, roads, tunnels and waterways than we would our own organs. There are achievable gains to be had by investing in our physical infrastructure. The most recent Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, states that “40% of the (road) system is now in poor or mediocre condition”. Moreover, “47% of the nation’s urban interstates are experiencing congestion during peak hours, and 30% of trips taken are impacted by severe or extreme congestion”. Fixing our roads will improve safety for motorists and pedestrians as well as our quality of life by shortening travel and delivery times.
A national infrastructure plan as proposed by the current administration will create jobs. An investment in our roads and bridges leads to a healthier transportation sector that currently employs nearly 10% of the US workforce, according to US Dept of Labor data. There are few things more rewarding in life than the sense of accomplishment that comes from an honest day’s work. Jobs that earn a living-wage empower people to bootstrap themselves out of poverty. Our sector has a great opportunity to help the economically disenfranchised, including the millions of Americans who lost jobs last year.
We recognize that it will take more than a reliance on public expenditures to course correct, and it’s why we recognize and applaud the great work performed by nonprofits such as Corporate America Supports You and Operation New Hope. Both organizations provide no-cost training and placement services to their constituents, for the benefit of those they serve and the employers they partner with. A healthy and sustainable economy will require increased cooperation between public, private and nonprofit entities.
The American Jobs Plan signals an attachment point for us to build bridges in a truly American way that exemplifies our shared values of patriotism, hard work and equal opportunity to achieve prosperity. We acknowledge that determining how to fund the program will be challenging for our lawmakers. We support their commitment to work in good faith towards initiatives like this one that build hope and unity among all Americans.