By Jim Balloch
U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) has been selected to chair a special Congressional panel that will examine how improvements to the various modes of freight transportation issues can help strengthen the economy.
Duncan will head the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation.
"In the past, the conversation about freight transportation and goods movement has focused only on one specific mode of transportation or another," Duncan said in a prepared statement.
"But freight doesn't move just by ship, or by rail car, or by truck," he said. "Chances are, the goods you buy at the store got on the shelves thanks to all those methods of transportation."
Bottlenecks at any point during transport of products "from the manufacturer to the market drive up costs," he said. "That's why improving the flow of freight across all modes of transportation is so critical to a healthy economy."
Chad Autry, a professor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration, said that is a sound approach.
Autry said it is important to regard the nation's transportation system as an "integrated whole system, where different modes of transportation can substitute for one another. Working together, they can drive costs down."
The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation is scheduled to serve for six months. It's first hearing is scheduled for April 24.
Duncan's appointment to chair the panel was announced Tuesday by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), who chairs the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Duncan is vice chairman of that committee.
"Given that freight transportation cuts across many modes, this panel will play a critical role in providing recommendations on how to improve the efficient movement of goods between highways, ports, inland waterways, railroads, air carriers, and pipelines," Shuster said.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will serve as the panel's ranking member.
Besides Duncan, Republicans who will serve on the panel are panel are Gary Miller, Calif.; Rick Crawford, Ark.; Richard Hanna, N.Y.; Daniel Webster, Fla.; and Markwayne Mullin, Okla.