Senators Blumenthal, Booker with Representatives McGovern, Nadler, Urge Secretary Foxx To Re-Evaluate DOT Study on Impact of Commercial Trucks on Nation’s Roads, Highways

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory A. Booker (D-N.J) with U.S. Representatives James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx, urging him to review results of a 2012 DOT study on the impact of heavy commercial trucks on the nation’s roads and highways prior to publicly releasing the study results, noting their concerns with the study’s methodology and data.

“The deteriorating nature of our infrastructure can hardly be overstated. As the administration noted in its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016, ‘65 percent of America’s roads are rated in less than good condition,’” they wrote. “DOT has taken several steps to conduct the study, and we appreciate DOT’s focus on the issue…as we noted in letters last Congress, there appeared to be conflicts of interest in the selection of the study’s contractor and the bases of its findings on flawed data and poor methodology. These issues must be addressed and corrected.”

“It is troubling that DOT could release a study that recommends bigger, heavier trucks that will lead to more potholes and even greater problems – like safety risks, environmental damage, and economic harm – not to mention higher expenses to maintain our infrastructure. For these and so many other reasons, DOT needs to fix the fatal flaws inherent in the study that is now underway.”

Full text of the letter can be read here and below:

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, Southeast
Washington, District of Columbia, 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:

As you know, in 2012, Congress passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT) to study the implications of allowing bigger and heavier commercial trucks on our roads and highways. With a new Congress now underway, we write to strongly re-state our many concerns with the study and urge you to ensure these deficiencies are corrected before the study is released.

Congress mandated that DOT conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the effects on safety, infrastructure, our environment and our economy of increasing the permissible size and weight of trucks beyond what is allowed today. The last time DOT conducted a comprehensive study was fifteen years ago, so a new and updated analysis of this issue is critical to helping Congress craft long-term policies ensuring the safety and sufficiency of our country’s transportation network. This is especially important as Congress works on legislation to reauthorize our surface transportation programs before the latest extension of the current law expires in May.

DOT has taken several steps to conduct the study, and we appreciate DOT’s focus on the issue – including your efforts to meet with concerned stakeholders like law enforcement officials, labor leaders and safety experts who have sought to discuss DOT’s work crafting the report. As they all have stressed and as we noted in letters last Congress, there appeared to be conflicts of interest in the selection of the study’s contractor and the bases of its findings on flawed data and poor methodology. These issues must be addressed and corrected.

In addition to our concerns about the study’s flaws, we must also underscore one key point: the tremendous damage that bigger, heavier trucks can inflict on our already crumbling roads and highways. The deteriorating nature of our infrastructure can hardly be overstated. As the administration noted in its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016, “65 percent of America’s roads are rated in less than good condition.” You have been a leading voice highlighting the dire condition of our nation’s aging roads and bridges throughout your tenure as Secretary, most recently on an eight-state road trip you took last month focused on the need to invest in our country’s infrastructure. We commend your vigorous advocacy and share your commitment and concerns because we also believe that our country’s crumbling system threatens our safety and imperils our economic competitiveness. It is therefore troubling that DOT could release a study that recommends bigger, heavier trucks that will lead to more potholes and even greater problems – like safety risks, environmental damage, and economic harm – not to mention higher expenses to maintain our infrastructure. For these and so many other reasons, DOT needs to fix the fatal flaws inherent in the study that is now underway.

Again, we appreciate your efforts to get this study right and look forward to a final product that will help us make our infrastructure stronger – not further undermine roads and bridges that are already failing to meet our country’s needs.

Sincerely,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
United States Senate

CORY A. BOOKER
United States Senate

JAMES P. McGOVERN
Member of Congress

JERROLD NADLER
Member of Congress

Press Contact

Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) – (202) 224-6452
Monique Waters (Booker) – (202) 224-8150
Natalie Blais (McGovern) – (202) 480-3562
John Doty (Nadler) - (202) 486-4352