American Trucking Associations Chairman Ray Kuntz asked a Senate panel to make fundamental changes to federal surface transportation programs to allow the trucking industry to more efficiently move freight.

Testifying before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chairman Kuntz said key program changes will improve the nation’s global competitiveness, reduce fuel consumption and lower vehicle emissions.

“Currently, our country appears to be facing an economic slowdown, we are in the midst of an energy crisis, and an environmental crisis is looming. A long-term plan to rebuild our highway infrastructure and reduce congestion will stimulate our economy, reduce fuel consumption, reduce our carbon footprint, and ensure our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy,” said Kuntz. “The correct path, though not easy, seems clear.”

Chairman Kuntz asked the subcommittee to dedicate additional resources for repairing critical highway freight bottlenecks, to address rural highway needs and to ensure that the public interest is protected by limiting tolling and private financing as a means of funding infrastructure projects.

He also highlighted the need to fund congestion relief efforts. Chairman Kuntz recommended the creation of a new program that would keep congestion relief funds separate from the overall highway trust fund.

He also recommended reforms to federal truck size-and-weight limits that give states more flexibility to make common-sense changes to their own regulatory regimes.

ATA Chairman Kuntz is also the Chairman and CEO of Watkins and Shepard Trucking in Helena, Mont. Watkins and Shepard Trucking is a national transportation company providing truckload (both dry van and flatbed), less-than-truckload (LTL), and brokerage services. The company has over 700 trucks and drivers, 1,095 total employees and a nationwide network of 23 terminals and drop yards in 15 states.

The American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States.