Ed Talks: Mortimer Speaks about Infrastructure and Transportation Investment at Events across the Nation
As America waits to hear President Trump and Congress’s newest proposals on funding, repairing and growing investment in U.S. infrastructure and transportation, Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition Executive Director Ed Mortimer has been traveling around the country to build awareness and support for swift and sustainable solutions.
Mortimer is also Executive Director of Transportation Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has been at the forefront of advocating investment in our overburdened infrastructure and the need to modernize a national multimodal transportation system that is, unfortunately, being surpassed in other areas of the world.
Both the Chamber and ATM’s efforts include helping move federal bipartisan funding bills forward, promoting the roles of business involvement and public-private partnerships (known as P3s), and examining regional responses such as states taking steps to guarantee revenue.
In the latter part of September, Mortimer spoke at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) 2017 EDGE Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Policy & Competitiveness Conference in Cambridge, Md., and the 2017 Mobility 21 Southern California Transportation Summit in Anaheim, Calif.
“What I am learning at all of these speaking engagements and through networking with stakeholders and business leaders is that everyone agrees now is the time for our elected officials to commit to putting this on the top of their to-do lists,” says Mortimer. “We cannot wait for the nation’s infrastructure to continue to decline because of inadequate funding and financing. The costs are only going to rise over time and set us behind even more.”
A Needed Network
Supply chain experts and professionals are on the cutting-edge of logistics, technologies that aid in efficiency, systems management, and educational tools, but every regional U.S. economy and every citizen’s quality of life are affected by our transportation grid.
The United States, for example, is the world’s top grain producer and “every year during harvest season, farmers and shippers rely upon freight railroads to efficiently carry 1.5 million carloads of grain to customers across the country,” according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). This means that many components – barges, export terminals, feedlots, grain elevators, highways, intermodal exchanges, processing plants, producers, trains, trucks and waterways – could be involved to market, move and use grain.
In the past year, the ATM has focused on increasing its outreach strategies and telling America’s transportation story through its members’ voices and original content such as grassroots articles, videos and audio pieces that help frame why infrastructure and transportation investment must be a priority.
However, the Chamber has also put boots on the ground to build consensus, provide input and gain insight beyond the nation’s capital. Mortimer has spoken at dozens of events to help expand the base of those who can rally collaboratively for infrastructure and transportation spending.
8 Quick Facts
- Maryland has a vibrant economy and one example of the importance of infrastructure connectivity and mobility is the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore. In 2016, it was the fourth fastest-growing port in North America, based on an analysis done by the Journal of Commerce, handling 648,770 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). The latter is a measure of container ship capacity in approximately how many 20-foot containers it can carry, according to the Maryland Port Administration.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has called the port an economic engine for Maryland and said that the port “supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across Maryland and around the world.”
- Additionally, Hogan has proposed a $9 billion plan, based on public-private partnerships, to relieve traffic congestion and signed an agreement with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to build a $2 billion suburban light-rail project known as the Purple Line, which is being funded by the federal government and a P3 effort, according to Reuters.
- Mobility 21 was formed in 2002 to bring together various players (government, transportation providers and the labor and business communities) to develop solutions for transportation issues Los Angeles County is facing. The initiative was led by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California.
- Mobility 21’s efforts are crucial on the West Coast because 17 million people, in a range of counties, are affected by the region’s ability to move goods and people efficiently. The summit’s highpoints included Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking about how transportation is being transformed in California, a state that is embracing new legislation and policies.
- In April, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “landmark” transportation funding package (SB 1) that generates new revenues from various taxes and fees and is meant to repair and maintain state highways and local roads, improve trade corridors, and support public transit and active transportation, according to the California Transit Association.
- It is worth noting that the supply chain summit was held in Atlanta, which has the No. 1 truck bottleneck in the country, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). The chokepoint – known as “Spaghetti Junction” – is where Interstate 285 merges with Interstate 85 North and numerous access roads northeast of Atlanta. ATRI’s annual rankings have not only built awareness about congestion, but have resulted in actions by elected leaders who want to fix local traffic problems that have received national attention.
- More than 28 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is tied to trade and that number is expected to grow, according to the Chamber.