The infrastructure bill could fix trucking for the long haul

President Biden has laid out the most important vision for infrastructure development in the United States since President Eisenhower. The interstate system that he began became the physical architecture for the nation’s growth—knitting the country together and delivering incredible economic benefits.

Eighteen-wheeler truck driving on the highway at dusk.

Despite those benefits, the system came at great cost, particularly to the nation’s cities and many of the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. It also increased dependence on oil and wreaked a significant environmental toll. In addition to these challenges, the system has been woefully neglected for decades, and is in need of an efficiency overhaul.

The costs of inefficiency are borne by many. Truckers work the hours of two jobs, with many of those hours unpaid, and spend weeks away from loved ones. Communities of color bear the cost of poor air quality from trucks that use old technology and burn nothing but diesel fuel.

For years, the trucking industry has been asking for additional truck parking. The need for it is obvious to anyone who has driven our nation’s interstates and seen the growing lines of trucks parked on exit ramps.

The federal government should build this parking—paid for by an additional tax on diesel. But this parking shouldn’t be built in the middle of nowhere. It should be built at the points of congestion that circle most major cities. A national network of urban truck ports would improve the jobs of truckers, advance equity in our goods movement system, and fundamentally shift the economics of investing in clean truck technology.

This story is by Steve Viscelli. Read more at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.