America’s infrastructure, which ranges from bridges to potholes, has an average rating of a “D+.” Since 2013, politicians and Former Speaker John Boehner touched on the need to “preventing infrastructure failures,” reports Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
The problems with America’s infrastructure are not specific to any one state. Dams and bridges are deteriorating faster than ever, and in fact, the overwhelming majority of the so-called marvels of engineering–dams, bridges and roads–are 52-years-old on average. Moreover, the state of roads cost drivers more than $101 billion annually from wasted fuel and time costs, reports William H. Behrer of Real Truth magazine, impacting everyday drivers and the logistics industry.
While the parodies are quite “terrifying,” the problem remains, but one piece of legislation, passed in December 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), offers a solution, and actionable steps are being laid out to define a way to dramatically reshape the infrastructure-landscape in several key ways.
The U.S. Highway Trust Fund had gone bankrupt. Rather than pouring funding into the Highway Trust Fund blindly, the FAST Act is operating similar to education funding sources. Funds are being distributed as needed, but all funds are clearly defined for use in repairing the existing problems. There is some wiggle-room in how the funds are used, but any such room is detailed in 30 fact sheets to help local and state governments understand how to access and use the funds appropriately. As a result, a timeline of milestones in the implementation of the FAST Act has emerged.
Applications for grant programs will be due in May and June, pushing for approval by the end of 2016, and projects will begin shortly. When the FAST Act was originally introduced, the fight over how quickly something could be done seemed imminent. Yet, the strides in apportioning and releasing the funds are tantamount to the creation of a government in less than four months, representing the urgency of the situation.
If we consider the time it takes to build and repair the “smallest” portions of highways (less than 10-mile tracts), logistics providers could see real improvements in the speed of transit by the end of 2018, if not sooner.
Improved regulatory requirements for truck size and weight will open new corridors and route options, and better road quality will reduce fuel costs among an increasingly fuel-consumptive sector of the economy. While transportation management systems work to improve the efficiency and productivity of logistics operations, carriers not reasonably work on roads themselves. Fortunately, the FAST Act is providing funding for the much-needed improvements on America’s roads and bridges, laying the foundation for a more successful, cost-effective and efficient transit system.
Guidelines will continue to be issued, but progress has arrived, and logistics providers can finally take advantage of the true scope of the latest technologies in transportation management and its resulting benefits in reducing freight costs and improving customer service.
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