FedEx exec backs infrastructure investment, twin trailers

A top FedEx official called for more federal investment in America’s transportation infrastructure in testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee’s surface transportation subcommittee last week, according to a report in the Commercial Appeal.

Mike Ducker, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Freight, advocated expansion of 33-foot tandem trailers and uniform national standards on innovations such as autonomous vehicles.

Ducker’s appearance came after a meeting last week with President Donald Trump to discuss the future of trucking and transportation as part of the President’s jobs and infrastructure agenda.

The Trump administration is working on a 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but how it would be funded is unclear.

Ducker said FedEx joins the American Trucking Associations in favoring “federal investment in highways, primarily funded by user fees. In order to avoid over-reliance on a single option, FedEx supports a broad mix of revenue sources, including increasing and indexing fuel taxes, a vehicle miles traveled or other user-based fee, reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate and territorial system adoption, and congestion pricing.”

FedEx Freight is Memphis-based FedEx Corp.’s trucking unit. It operates more than 20,000 vehicles that carry more than 100,000 shipments a day while averaging 5 million daily miles by roads and rail.

FedEx supports adding 5 feet to today’s federal 28-foot tandem trailer limit. Ducker said it would instantly expand highway capacity and reduce pollution without requiring new federal dollars or sacrificing safety.

“The highway networks are being overwhelmed with e-commerce,” Ducker said. A move to 33-foot trailers nationwide, without changing an 80,000-pound truck weight limit, would increase the volume of freight carried by 18.6 percent.

FedEx and other companies have operated 33-foot tandems in Florida for years.

“They are safer than our current twin 28s,” Ducker said.

But Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said he opposes a federal mandate on 33-foot tandems and favors the rights of states to opt out of allowing them. “There are huge concerns, safety concerns, as expressed by sheriffs, by the AAA (American Automobile Association), by safety advocates that have come to see me,” Wicker said.