Posted by Randy Forbes | October 19, 2012
Yesterday, I hosted a Panama Canal Roundtable in Suffolk with Senator John Boozman (AR) to bring experts in international shipping, trade, and transport together to discuss how Virginia and the rest of the country can work together to prepare for the impending expansion of the Panama Canal, a “game changer” for the ports on the East Coast. In attendance were Jim Cheng, Virginia Commerce Secretary, several of our mayors, Virginia Port Authority Commissioners, Colonel Paul Olsen, Army Corps of Engineers, Representatives from the American Trucking Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and industry representatives from CSX, Maersk, Norfolk Southern, Target, Walmart and more.
Out of an interesting discussion, three highlights emerged.
1. The post-Panamax ships are coming and we need to be prepared for that. The future of international shipping is moving towards these larger post-Panamax ships that can handle up to ten times the carrying capacity of previously used vessels. The Panama Canal expansion is due to be completed by the end of 2015 and currently, the Port of Virginia is the only East Coast port prepared to accept these giant ships, which require deeper channels, wider berths, larger turning basins and expanded dock capacity . Colonel Olsen, the Norfolk District Commander for the Army Corps of Engineers predicted that 62 percent of container ships will be post-Panamax class by 2030. This capability, partnered with the Port of Virginia’s rail and truck access that allows goods off-loaded at the port to be transported to two-thirds of the U.S. population within 24 hours, puts the Commonwealth in an especially advantageous position to benefit from the Panama Canal expansion.
2. Our interconnectivity underscores the importance of strong partnerships. Ships will only come to the Port of Virginia if the channel is deep enough and the port can receive and process their cargo timely and efficiently. Transportation companies – such as rail and trucking companies - can only deliver goods if adequate highway, tunnel and rail infrastructure exists to handle the larger payloads. Retailers and small businesses can only succeed if they can acquire their goods economically and in a timely manner. All these businesses depend in some way on each other to sell goods to consumers and the efficiency in which they do has a huge effect on how much you, the end consumer will pay for them. We must ensure that government regulation is minimal and helps, not hurts these businesses, who ultimately pass on these costs to consumers.
3. We need to be more strategic and forward thinking. We need to look further than six months in the future to fully take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by things like the Panama Canal expansion. It’s not just enough for the ports to be ready to accept the larger ships, but the highway and rail access needs to be prepared ahead-of time. We need to protect the jobs we have and take advantage of opportunities for new ones. The Port of Virginia’s rail and truck access that allows goods off-loaded at the port to be transported to two-thirds of the U.S. population within 24 hours, puts the Commonwealth in an especially advantageous position to benefit from the Panama Canal expansion but how we adapt to the changes that are in motion will determine how we capitalize on these opportunities.
Watch WAVY-TV’s coverage of yesterday’s roundtable here.
Read my opinion piece in the Richmond Times Dispatch on this topic: On Port of Virginia question: Bag the Bolo Punch
Read the Harnessing Panama’s Potential in the Suffolk News-Herald.
Posted by Randy | May 02, 2012
Transportation and infrastructure projects create thousands of jobs across America and encourage the free flow of goods and products that help support our local economies. In fact, transportation and roadway projects employ 21,000 individuals in Virginia. The Port of Virginia, which currently ranks as the third largest container port on the East Coast, is one of the largest drivers of the Hampton Roads and Virginia economies, contributing to 343,000 jobs throughout the state.
Virginia’s Ports. I supported the passage of three new Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama, as well as the reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences. These agreements mean millions of dollars in new exports from the Commonwealth of Virginia and will strengthen Virginia’s vital ports, shipping, and transport industries.
Question of the Week: Do you support bold proposals like the 414 Plan to cut through the red tape and speed up construction projects?Posted by Randy | January 27, 2012
This week, the President delivered the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress and the American people. In a wide-ranging speech that touched on a variety of national concerns from economic recovery, to changing energy policy and addressing the ongoing housing crisis, the President offered his Administration's 'blueprint' for the next year without providing many details. One goal articulated by the President was his desire to "clear away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects" through an executive order. While specifics of the President's proposal remain unclear, I have offered a bold proposal, the 414 Plan, that does just that--clears away the red tape, puts Americans back to work, cuts costs, and accelerates necessary construction and improvements to our nation's roads and bridges.
The 414 Plan
GOAL: Seeks to build roads and bridges in 414 days, rather than 13 years.
Question of the Week: Do you support bold proposals like the 414 Plan to cut through the red tape and speed up construction projects?
( ) Yes, I support bold proposals like the 414 Plan to cut through the red tape.
( ) No, I do not support proposals like the 414 Plan that cut back on regulations.
( ) Other (leave your comments below)
( ) I am unsure.
Learn more about the 414 Plan here.
Read my statement in response to the State of the Union address here.
Take the poll here.
Find the results of last week's instaPoll here.
Question of the Week: Do you support the 414 Plan that suspends regulations hindering the construction of roads and bridges?Posted by Randy | October 13, 2011
A 2010 Government Accountability Office report found that a quarter of the country’s 600,000 bridges are either “structurally deficient” or inadequate to meet today’s traffic needs. To address this problem, Congressman Forbes has introduced the 414 Plan, a bill that temporarily suspends burdensome regulations that have stalled the highway construction process to an average of 13.1 years while still maintaining rigorous safety and durability standards. The 414 Plan:
The text of the legislation is available here.
Posted by Randy | February 01, 2011
Posted by Randy | July 13, 2010
I frequently tell people that Virginia’s Fourth District is home to some of the most beautiful, welcoming, and efficient communities in our nation. Some might say that I, having grown up and raised my family in the Fourth District, am a bit biased. But others are agreeing that it is true.
Posted by Randy | September 29, 2009
--This week, Virginia stands to lose about $229 million in transportation funding through a provision that rescinds $8.7 billion in contracts from the federal highway program on the last day of the fiscal year (Sept 30).
--A tiny car company in Finland has just gotten a $529 million loan from the U.S. government to build $89,000 hybrid luxury sports cars.
What’s wrong with this picture? How can our federal government justify funding $89,000 hybrid sports cars in Finland, when basic transportation projects in our own backyards are being left unfunded? This type of federal government “logic” doesn’t make sense to Americans. In fact, this type of “logic” is why Americans are so frustrated with government spending.
We need an overhaul to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal departments and agencies, and to put government back in the business of governing, not spending.
Here are more details on how I’m working for fiscal responsibility in government.
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