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U.S. Logistics Infrastructure Problems Could Mean Higher Shipping Costs, Longer Delivery Times

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The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released a report card of U.S. infrastructure, including roadways and bridges that the trucking industry depends upon to transport 68 percent of of all U.S. freight tonnage. Already, bridges have collapsed in Saint Paul, Minnesota; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Mount Vernon, Washington. The ASCE gave roadways in the U.S. an overall grade of D and bridges a grade of C+, noting that the government needs to set aside an additional $3 trillion above what is already earmarked for road and bridge repairs in order to keep key logistics routes open and safe.

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The problem does vary from state to state, as each state is responsible for some of their own bridges. Pennsylvania’s bridges are among the worst, and the state has already lowered the capacity of some 1,000 bridges. Armstrong Industries, a small tile maker located in Marietta, Pennsylvania, is having to route their trucks an extra 25 miles around one of these downgraded bridges. The company expects the redirected trucks to add $300,000 to their annual costs for freight.

The American Trucking Association wants the federal government to raise the tax on fuel to pay for the needed road and bridge repairs. It has been over 20 years since this tax was raised. However, it seems unlikely that lawmakers are going to add any tax for road improvements, since it took one other bill to provide road funding years to pass. In light of the struggling economy and political dogfights over other national issues, discussion about the roadways and bridges is far down on the list of important things to argue about in Washington D.C.

Roads and bridges were not the only U.S. infrastructure problems cited by the ASCE report card. Railways got a C+, seaports got a C, and inland waterways received a D. [/show_to]

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