U.S. Senators introduce $287 billion highway bill

$287 billion highway bill

A $287 billion highway bill proposal reauthorizing funding to maintain and repair the country's roads and bridges includes a first-ever title addressing carbon emissions and supporting electric vehicle infrastructure.

The legislation, a five-year reauthorization of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to be called America's Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, was introduced on July 29 by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. The proposed funding for federal-aid highway programs is a 27 percent increase from the $226 billion authorized in the current legislation, which expires in October 2020.

"The [EPW proposal] is the most substantial highway infrastructure bill in history," said the committee's chairman, John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). "The bill cuts Washington red tape, so road construction can get done faster, better, cheaper and smarter. It will help create jobs and support our strong, growing and healthy economy. Infrastructure is critical to our country and we should responsibly pay for this legislation."

Tom Carper (D-Delaware), the committee's ranking member, said addressing air pollution in a highway bill will help move the country "toward a safer, more connected, efficient and climate-friendly transportation system" to keep up with the global economy.

"We're just getting started, but I look forward to moving this bill out of committee this week and the work ahead of us to get it across the finish line." The bill must be paired with a version from the U.S. House of Representatives that is not expected to be introduced until the fall of this year, at the earliest.

The Senate legislation increases funding for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program for freight projects to $5.5. billion, a 22 percent increase from the $4.5 billion authorized in the FAST Act. It increases the minimum amount of INFRA funds to go towards smaller projects from 10 to 15 percent, and sets aside $150 million per year for a pilot program that prioritizes projects offering a higher non-federal match. It would also create new transparency requirements for administering the grants.

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Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Stresses Benefits of Long-Term Highway Bill

Secretary Elaine Chao

June ended with the country's top transportation officer emphasizing that a multiyear highway policy directive from Washington is more beneficial to state agencies than a series of short-term extensions of federal guidelines.

Secretary Elaine Chao drilled down on this point, admittedly obvious to stakeholders, during an in-depth conversation with Hugo Gurdon, editor of The Washington Examiner, on June 26.

"The general pattern is in fact to just have extensions, not full reauthorization. But clearly, the certainty of having a longer time frame is very important to those who are involved in infrastructure," said the secretary, sitting across from the journalist on stage at the Heritage Foundation. "State and local governments, you know, if they know they're going to have this money for five years rather than six months, they can actually plan for the future. So a longer-term horizon is better."

The conservative think tank is a few blocks from the Senate side of the Capitol, where the surface transportation panel on July 10 ideally will kick off the obvious task of determining a strategy for reauthorizing surface transportation policy. The current highway law expires in less than 15 months.

By now, a consensus has been established inside the Beltway that advancing comprehensive infrastructure policy is unlikely this year. Separate press conferences in May from President Donald Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing their failed negotiations on a $2 trillion infrastructure measure cemented the notion that top-level infrastructure talks had collapsed.

Since then, Trump has focused on immigration policy. Pelosi has pressed forward with investigations into Trump's political and business worlds. The Republican leadership in the Senate has not proposed an infrastructure measure during Trump's tenure.

Reacting to Gurdon's suggestion that comprehensive infrastructure policy would not advance in the foreseeable future, Chao exclaimed, "I haven't given up hope yet."

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Making the Autonomous Supply Chain a Reality

Supply chain

Supply chains are evolving in the face of greater customer demand, soaring expectations, and endless purchasing opportunities. Retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics companies are having to move quicker and produce more with shorter turnarounds and greater transparency. Companies are digitizing their supply chains to meet these new challenges, but this alone isn’t enough to answer the questions businesses are asking every day: what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next quarter?

An autonomous supply chain can help businesses respond with immediacy and decisiveness. This technology is designed to deliver on-demand, navigate disruptions months in advance and help keep your business ahead of any changes in customer buying behavior. The three core tenants for an autonomous supply chain are:

Reading the signals

The more information a business has access to and uses, the more it can help understand any changes in supply and demand. In the past, the main challenge was having the processing capability necessary to collect reliable data and harness it to represent the realities of changing conditions. The capacity to measure and recognize external conditions is critical to predicting supply and demand. The autonomous supply chain requires a significant increase in external signals, which relies on the reporting of evolving climate and market conditions in real time.

So how can you read the signals? Using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and IoT, you can manage and interpret signals such as weather events, temperatures jeopardizing fresh products and any online social trends influencing customer demand. Businesses need to make use of as many signals as possible, because if dimensions are missing it will difficult to get a clear picture.

It sees everything

To truly understand their entire supply chain, businesses need to manage the complexity and volume of intelligence — billions of pieces of information that are time-stamped with their own varying amounts of information. Let’s set the stage: imagine sensors inside a lorry, which is on its way to deliver fresh goods to a grocery retailer. Sensors are able to detect the temperature inside and outside of the lorry, the speed it is travelling at, and if there are any road works which will slow the delivery down. Every detail is pinpointed with time and date stamps.

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Mexico Trade Spurs Largest Regional Spec Build

Laredo, TX

Laredo, TX is the third largest port in the U.S. after Los Angeles, and New York City and 60% of U.S. / Mexico trade occurs in Laredo, TX. Last year trade in Laredo surpassed $300 billion. This robust trade has driven the need for the largest regional class-A industrial spec space to be developed. It is no wonder why international companies are looking to Laredo to establish logistics operations.

Read the full article here.

Published in GlobeSt.com