Arkansas Trucking Association

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Sisyphean Task

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENTShannon Newton
President, ATA

When I sit down to write this column, I usually pick up my pom-poms and megaphone, taking on the role of industry cheerleader. I let you know where we are in the game, if we are chanting “D-E-F-E-N-S-E!” or “S-C-O-R-E!”

Usually, I’ve got good news. Our bill was passed. We got through to our legislators or the public. We did a good deed. We’ve set new goals. We celebrated a new milestone. We launched a new program.

This time, instead of good news, I’ve got perspective. For all the times fighting for the industry feels like political football, it isn’t the kind of game where the buzzer sounds, the ice chest is upended and we all go home.

The work is never really over, and I am reminded of that each time highway funding gets pushed further down on the agenda or when I open my inbox to misinformation about the industry and what we contribute.

Recently, when a highway construction project on I-40 near West Memphis was announced, a local blogger and political pundit created an opportunity to take the trucking industry to task.

The headline is salacious; the content, deceptive and outright false. The goal of playing the blame game is to see who can get to resentment first. And the bottom line of this particular argument is truckers are destroying roads, in unequal measures to their passenger vehicle counterparts, and they want taxpayers to foot the bill.

If that were true, I’d resent trucking, too.

The blog implies that taxpayers are disproportionately paying for the rebuilding of a particular stretch of interstate that is “regularly pounded to rubble by interstate truck traffic,” from the proceeds of a temporary half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2012. However, Arkansas voters approved the tax to fund continued construction of four-lane highways to connect all four corners of the state. The proceeds are split between the state highway system and local cities and counties. According to the Arkansas State Highway & Transportation Department’s website, the bond program doesn’t fund interstate repair or maintenance like the project the blogger referenced.

The author also perpetuates one of the most frustrating and common misnomers about interstate truck traffic, stating that big rigs leave their mark along Arkansas highways and the state doesn’t receive any benefit unless they stop for a cup of coffee. But in reality, Arkansas receives fuel tax revenue from every truck that passes through (based on reported and audited miles driven in the state), regardless of where they purchase their fuel or food.

The blog also failed to mention that trucking pays 47% of all taxes collected from Arkansas motorists, yet we drive only 14% of the vehicle miles traveled here. And we support and are willing to pay more state and federal taxes for the roads we use.

Carrying around these facts and righting wrong information is the never-ending work it takes to pursue progress for the roads we all share.

So no pom-poms or backflips, just perspective: The game’s never over, but the work is worth it. Trucking’s contributions are impossible to untangle from the prosperity of the economy, and we need safe, reliable roads to make those contributions.

 

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Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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