Former Vice President, Transportation and Infrastructure
March 23, 2017
The new administration has outlined critical objectives for getting our country back on track: creating jobs, boosting economic growth, and improving infrastructure. This is good news as these three concepts are intertwined. Infrastructure projects not only create jobs and improve quality of life for all Americans, but they enhance economic growth in the long term. With improved roads, bridges, and ports, businesses are better able to serve consumers and expand their enterprises.
Supply Chains Rely on Infrastructure
America’s infrastructure, however, needs a lot of work. If the United States intends to stimulate economic growth by producing more, exporting more, and selling more, then businesses need a physical framework to accommodate increased productivity. For example, delivery companies could make 15 deliveries per hour—up from 10—with infrastructure improvements.
We need to take a serious look at our roads and bridges. Last quarter, 55% of UPS deliveries went directly to consumers. America needs to invest more in roads that reach residential communities, especially in areas that cause bottlenecks and congestion. Traffic congestion slows deliveries, puts more time between producers and destinations, and ultimately adds costs that fall on consumers.
It’s not only about faster delivery to your door or local retailer. Most freight trucks you see on the road represent just one leg of a long journey. Roadway congestion impacts the travel itinerary of additional shipments and can disrupt an entire supply chain.
Developing our ports and waterways is also a priority for improving supply chain productivity. With the Panama Canal expansion recently completed, we need to modernize our marine infrastructure to meet the capacity of larger vessels. Freight moves around the country faster and more efficiently when using an interconnected, multimodal system. Likewise, we need to expand our rail networks, especially those connecting to ports and truck transfer facilities.
How to Move Forward
America’s infrastructure is the safest investment our nation can make. But investing means more than tossing money at the problem. We need to streamline approval for construction projects, create more opportunities for public-private partnerships, and find a sustainable long-term funding mechanism to guarantee that projects can be completed down the road.
May 15–19 is Infrastructure Week, a national week of education and advocacy that brings together American businesses, workers, elected leaders, and citizens around one message: It’s #TimeToBuild.
These topics and more will be discussed at the Fifth Annual Global Supply Chain Summit on May 17 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Join us and be part of this critical conversation.
About the authors
Ed Mortimer was formerly vice president of Transportation and Infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.