Twin 33s are a common sense solution to modern transportation challenges
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Big rail is standing in the way of modernized trucking that will make the best use of our country’s aging infrastructure and alleviate congestion on our roadways.

Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ed Hamberger recently proposed that Congress should settle for the status quo rather than adopt commonsense updates to truck length regulations, which haven’t been changed since 1982. While rail is holding on to the past, the trucking industry is looking to solve present day and future challenges.

Americans for Modern Transportation is a diverse coalition of shippers, carriers, manufacturers, and retailers who support the safe, reliable and cost efficient movement of freight and packages. We believe major investments in America’s infrastructure will alleviate traffic congestion and move goods to businesses and consumers more efficiently. We support legislation to get these projects under way, funded in part by a highway trust fund that has an ample and reliable revenue stream.

It will take time for Congress and the administration to reach a consensus on how to structure, prioritize and fund what will easily be a $1.5-trillion endeavor.  Our country’s economy and consumers can’t wait for a solution that is potentially years down the road. We need immediate policy changes that will support economic growth, add capacity to our transportation network and allow goods to move more safely and efficiently. One such change is allowing twin trailers of 33 feet, or twin 33s, to operate on highways in all 50 states. This comes at no cost to taxpayers, as the private sector would pay for this instant improvement in trucking efficiency.

Twin 33s are already allowed in 20 states, where they have been operating safely for years. If twin 33s could operate nationwide, there could be an 18 percent reduction of twin trailers on American highways. That extra five feet of capacity in a modern 33-foot trailer would enable shippers to load trucks for additional deliveries on single trips, eliminating roughly 6 million truck trips a year.  Expressed another way, twin 33s could reduce the number of truck miles on the roads by 3.1 billion. Twin 33s would add instant and desperately needed capacity to our transportation network while reducing the number of trucks and miles traveled on our aging infrastructure.

U.S. freight volumes are projected to grow 40 percent over the next 30 years as the population grows and e-commerce expands. Because trucks will move 70 percent of this domestic cargo, we need immediate action and new efficiencies in supply chain logistics. Innovation, modernization and economic growth cannot be held hostage by highway funding formulas or the years it will take to update our country’s infrastructure.

Twin 33s also offer solutions to complex issues around energy and environmental policies. A national twin 33 trailer standard could reduce fuel consumption by some 204 million gallons a year. That decrease in fuel use would reduce carbon emissions by 4.4 billion pounds.

Trucking capacity is critical to our nation’s economic growth. Modernized trucking equipment will reduce the number of trucks on the road, trips required, miles driven, fuel consumed and carbon emitted.  

Twin 33s offer an answer to many of our country’s transportation challenges. Mr. Hamberger and the AAR’s misrepresentation of this solution as part of the problem simply adds to gridlock in the halls of Congress and on the nation’s roadways.

Randal Mullett is executive director for Americans for Modern Transportation.