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Too Little Too Late

Aug/Sep 07
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) most recent Report Card for America's Infrastructure gave the nation's highways, bridges, tunnels, dams, wastewater systems, etc. an overall grade of "D." The ASCE estimated $1.6 trillion is needed over a five-year period to bring U.S. infrastructure to good condition. Importantly, the society noted that establishing a long-term development and maintenance plan must become a national priority. And, it actually presented the 110th Congress with an "Action Plan" for the immediate future.

Back in March, ASCE President William F. Marcuson III, P.E., Ph.D., told Congress, "Establishing a long-term plan for the country's infrastructure must become a national priority, but in the short term, there are realistic and immediate steps that must be taken. By passing legislation introduced but not enacted by the previous Congress, our current leaders can make protecting public health, safety, and welfare a top priority."

Unfortunately, this advice could not be acted on soon enough. The sorry state of the nation's infrastructure was suddenly brought to the forefront by the tragic collapse in early August of a bridge in Minnesota over the Mississippi River. The human and economic toll of this tragedy is still being calculated. In the meantime, our crumbling infrastructure will continue to have a negative effect on the United States' quality of life as well as its economy.

Just look at the nation's road systems. They were given a grade of only "D+" by the ASCE in 2001 and have deteriorated further, only receiving a grade of "D" in 2005. The nation's economic prosperity depends, among other things, on shipping more goods over roads, and their poor condition has negative economic consequences.

In fact, last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System, envisioned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a system that would shrink the continent. Yet, Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warns, "We're going to run out of capacity pretty quick, and that is going to put a grinding halt on productivity, profitability, and our way of life."

National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler concurs: "Ever-increasing traffic backups from coast to coast are impeding the ability of business to transport goods efficiently.Transportation costs are a major factor in our ability to compete in the global marketplace."

These issues are of great concern to those responsible for their companies' logistics operations, and this month, we address these individuals in our cover story, "Opting for Better Logistics Locations." Distribution delays caused by congestion and security issues are examined and supply chain optimization strategies are explained. Be sure to read this article and all of the issue's contents to keep your company on the road - no pun intended - to success.

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