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April 2012

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Rail industry data and trends from Progressive Railroading April 2012


Brookings report: Improved infrastructure would fuel growth of U.S. export market

If the need to improve U.S. roads, bridges and transit systems isn't enough of a reason for Congress to pass long-term surface transportation funding legislation, a recent report by the Brookings Institution outlines another motivator: to serve the nation's growing U.S. export market.

U.S. exports have been a "major driver" of the nation's recovery since the 2008 recession, an indication that the U.S. economy is rapidly becoming more "export intensive," according to "Export Nation 2012," which the Brookings Institution released last month.

The report notes that U.S. export sales grew by more than 11 percent in 2010 — the most growth in one year since 1997 — and U.S. export-supported jobs increased by almost 6 percent, even though the overall economy still was shedding jobs. By 2011, total U.S. exports, as a share of gross domestic product, reached the highest level since 1929, the report states, citing the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Much of the growth occurred in the country's largest metropolitan areas, but exports increased rapidly in small metro areas, as well, the report's authors said.

The report cites various policy implications and recommends actions the federal government should take over the next few years to maintain the export growth trend. One key suggestion: Improve the nation's transportation infrastructure.

"A well-functioning transportation system is essential for an export-driven economy," according to the report, which recommends Congress and President Obama's administration provide "more and steady funding" for the U.S. transportation system in 2012 and beyond.

"The federal surface transportation program needs a long-term authorization statute, which would allow necessary investments in the maintenance and development of the U.S. infrastructure system," it states.

The report, which was released prior to the latest 90-day SAFETEA-LU extension that Congress passed and Obama signed during the last week in March, goes on to suggest that something similar to the two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill passed by the Senate "should be considered and would be critical for goods movement infrastructure projects."


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Browse articles on intermodal Association of American Railroads rail traffic carload traffic RailConnect Index short-line traffic IANA container volume domestic intermodal U.S. export export market Brookings SAFETEA-LU

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