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Trump administration must advance plan for infrastructure, JAXPORT conferees told

Mar 21, 2017

Advancement of extensive U.S. transportation infrastructure projects is imperative, according to presenters today in the opening panel discussion at the JAXPORT Logistics & Intermodal Conference.

The panelists called for the Trump administration to not only move transportation projects forward but also to maintain foreign trade, including via renegotiated agreements, as well as advance deregulation and tax reform.

Darrell Wilson, assistant vice president of government relations for Class I railroad firm Norfolk Southern Corp., said the “big three” priorities he would like to see addressed in Washington are infrastructure investment, further deregulation of business and tax reform, including sustainable tax cuts.

Kurt Nagle, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Port Authorities, said he is optimistic that, when details emerge of President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure pledge, a significant transportation component will be featured, including spending on waterside and landside connections for seaports, with ship channels maintained at authorized depths.

“If we want to be competitive, we need to catch up,” Nagle said.

Another panelist, Tom Feeney, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida, a Jacksonville-based lobbying group, said he has “some optimism” that considerable transportation projects will be moved forward, including via public-private partnerships.

Feeney, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives who served as a Republican U.S. congressman from 2003 to 2009, noted that $1 trillion of approved transportation already is in the pipeline.

Regarding Trump’s seemingly protectionist stance toward foreign trade, Feeney commented, “No country ever protected itself into prosperity.

“Starting a trade war is a very bad idea,” he continued, “and it will hurt American consumers far more than it will help American business.”

Norfolk Southern’s Wilson said a positive approach might be a requirement that 100 percent of steel used in infrastructure projects be made in the United States.

Wilson urged renegotiation of the quarter-century-old North American Free-Trade Agreement, a position supported by AAPA’a Nagle.

Nagle said his association has yet to take a formal stance on the proposed border adjustment tax, adding that export-dominant ports may benefit from such levies on imports while those with more imports are likely to be hurt.

Comprehensive coverage of the conference, sponsored by the Jacksonville Port Authority, at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort in St. Augustine, Florida, is slated to appear in the April 10 edition of the American Journal of Transportation.

Darrell Wilson, assistant vice president of government relations for Norfolk Southern Corp., left, listens to Tom Feeney, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida, at the JAXPORT Logistics & Intermodal Conference. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)
Darrell Wilson, assistant vice president of government relations for Norfolk Southern Corp., left, listens to Tom Feeney, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida, at the JAXPORT Logistics & Intermodal Conference. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

Author Photo

For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists.

Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.

A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.

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