Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood this month sought to calm a dust-up with trucking advocates, responding to their concerns that the department didn't value the role of trucks in the nation's freight system. "Truck transportation... will continue to play an essential role in ensuring the economic health of the country and maintaining the United States' position as a leader in international trade," LaHood wrote in a letter to Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.
Graves had written LaHood in April taking exception to public comments the secretary had made indicating trucks should take a lesser role in moving freight. One example Graves cited was the secretary's remark at a March meeting of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association that the "lion's share" of the department's $1.5 billion in TIGER funding "went into our freight system because it takes trucks off the road -- it takes gas-guzzling trucks off the road." Graves responded that it's not simply a matter of shifting the load to rail and waterways, and suggesting so "is not only factually incorrect, it can breed irresponsible policy."
The dust seems to have settled now. But what do you think about freight transportation and the future of trucking? Since trucks will make up a large portion of our freight mix for the foreseeable future -- Graves writes that trucks are projected to carry 71 percent of the nation's load in 2020 -- what's needed to make sure they're as efficient and clean as possible? Does this become a larger question about infrastructure? Are we using the best freight mix now, or is there a better one? What untapped possibilities do you see for rail and water transport?