Mica’s Goal: More Cars Off of the Highway

In a recent interview with the Journal of Commerce, Transportation Chair John Mica (R-FL) indicated that he shares many transportation goals with the Obama administration.

Mica speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Auto Train terminal in Sanford. Photo courtesy of ##http://mica.house.gov/Photos/#id=136716&num=12##John Mica's office##.
Mica speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Auto Train terminal in Sanford. Photo courtesy of ##http://mica.house.gov/Photos/#id=136716&num=12##John Mica's office##.

We mentioned the Journal’s report the other day that Mica has tried to reassure transportation supporters that new House rules won’t starve the highway trust fund.

Now the Journal is reporting that Mica is eager to shift more freight transportation to rail in order to “ease pressure on federal road and bridge spending out of the Highway Trust Fund, by reducing the pace of wear and tear.”

“My goal would be to get more trucks off of the highway, and more cars off of the highway,” Mica said.

Mica also refered to the vastly undersubscribed Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan program, which hasn’t shared the popularity of other federal funding programs like TIGER and TIFIA. He told the Journal would not try to use RRIF money for road projects, “but I can free that up for rail infrastructure … (and) enhancement of rail takes pressure off of my highways, if it’s properly applied, too.”

The Journal continued:

He also wants to take private the Amtrak Auto Train service that runs from central Florida nearly to Washington, D.C., in which drivers load their automobiles on the train and ride inside train cars for the 855-mile trip. Mica said that could be sharply expanded and perhaps broadened to include commercial trucks, as in Europe.

Such efforts, he said, save energy and “save the infrastructure, because four out of every five dollars for transportation now goes just for maintaining infrastructure. So I look at ways to take that asset, not only stop sitting on the (highway) asset, but stop wrecking the asset.”

The Journal is also reporting that Mica is planning to start a series of field hearings on the transportation reauthorization in the middle of next month. “The first thing I plan to do,” he told the Journal, “is a series of hearings around the country, and listening sessions, and we’re going to start that probably about the 18th of February.”

The current extension of the transportation bill expires March 4. It’s the sixth extension since SAFETEA-LU expired October 1, 2009.

  • J

    Well this seems more promising. Let’s see how things play out.

  • As an Amtrak advocate and frequent rider (see http://postcarpress.org), the auto train has always seemed like a perfect symbol of how out of touch and *American* Amtrak is–no national or long-haul Amtrak lines allow bicycles to ride without a huge hassle (boxing, no access to MANY stations even with the bike in a box because they don’t have ‘luggage service’) even though there is a ton of room inside many trains (on the Coast Starlight between LA and Seattle I have frequently ridden trains with old, dilapidated ‘arcade cars’ filled with old arcade games. In this space alone there is room for 25 un-boxed easily–and there would likely never be that many, so space and reservations would never be a problem.

    Despite the potential for some easy changes and fixes here, Amtrak is dragging its feet on bicycle access…while developing and wanting to build-out the ‘auto train.’ I’m sorry, but taking the train to Orlando and then renting a car has to be more environmentally-friendly in the end…

    – Justin

  • JJJ

    Privatize the auto train? How exactly does removing the profitable parts of amtrak help?

    Sounds like the bank bailout. Private profits, public loses.

  • Galls

    Just,

    The Autotrain is profitable, all that matters.

  • I guess I can understand why driving a car onto a train and having it delivered would sound like a great idea to today’s version of a flat-earther. To me, it sounds like a stupid, stupid, idea when (as the commenter above states) bicycles on most Amtrak trains are a royal pain in the ass to transport and offer by far the best bang for the buck for both rail passenger and rail carrier – small, relatively light, fast, and cheap.

  • “”More cars off the highway”, excellent, but how to do it? Why not consider a PRIORITY system called TrafficLogistics? see http://trafikklogistikk.com
    Knut

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