New ATM Executive Director Says IIJA Implementation & Getting Project Funding ‘Out the Door’ Must Be Priorities
John Drake, the new Executive Director of the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) Coalition and Vice President for Transportation, Infrastructure and Supply Chain Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is thinking about tomorrow.
“We had a historic bill [the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act/IIJA] that was passed into law just six months ago. The successful implementation of that law is absolutely critical,” he says in ATM’s latest podcast. “It’s absolutely critical that we get the dollars out the door as quick as we can because there is so much unmet demand for refurbished infrastructure, for improving our transportation network, and also, frankly, catching up with the needs of our larger economy … and making sure those dollars are going towards the right projects, towards the right programs.”
Still, he emphasizes the victory of the IIJA, calling the voices of the Chamber and the ATM invaluable to any infrastructure investment policy debate. This includes moving forward in bipartisan ways.
Prior to his new roles, Drake’s Chamber position was focusing on the supply chain. How the latter functions has certainly become a national and pressing hot-button topic. Before the Chamber, Drake worked on key committees on Capitol Hill for 10 years, for the Department of Transportation (DOT) for five years, and in top positions at Amazon and the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
Impacting policymaking today can be both a reactive and proactive process. Anticipating how to map out advocacy strategies, building relationships, identifying global influencers, and tracking and molding national policy issues are paramount to how Drake works. He says it’s crucial “we don’t have another delay in passing the next infrastructure law [and] making sure the investment dollars are there to put us on sound footing so we continue to be competitive going into the 21st century.”
Drake also discusses intelligent transportation, freight-specific programs, funding availability announcements and efficient programs, distribution of grants, innovation and advocating sensible timeframes for permitting transformative transportation projects. Improved bridges, increasing highway capacity and updating ports are fundamental to America’s future.
Delays at ports and getting goods to buyers have magnified how crucial infrastructure modernization is, and how the supply chain and transportation system are inextricably linked. This has spurred a dialogue about competitiveness and global trade.
“I think what has become really clear in the last 15 [to] 20 years is that there are a number of competitors to the United States that are rising and they are rising really quickly,” Drake says. He adds that the time for “complacency” is over because competitors, such as China, are nipping at the U.S.’s heels.
Ecommerce has completely transformed the trade world and policies for today’s trade environment need to be reexamined, Drake says.
For the Chamber, in the areas of transportation and infrastructure, he says “IIJA is priority No. 1 and 2 and 3 for our membership.”
The ATM is managed by the Chamber.