New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg passes away at 89

By Jeff Berman · June 3, 2013

No matter what the letter is after the name of your preferred political party, freight transportation stakeholders would be wise to take a moment to pay their respects to the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), whom passed away today at 89.

Lautenberg was a five-term senator and served as Chairman of the Senate’s Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee and was well-known in the freight transportation world as he was involved with various pieces of freight-focused legislation, including:
-this month’s reintroduction of the Safe Highways and Preservation Act of 2013 (SHIPA), which is geared to keep bigger and heavier trucks off the road and apply existing federal truck size and weight limits to the entire National Highway System, rather than interstate highways, which is the case today;
-The American Infrastructure Fund Act of 2013 with Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), which they said they said would leverage federal investment to rebuild and expand transportation infrastructure and create American jobs. At the heart of the bill is a $5 billion fund that would incentivize private, state and regional investments in transportation projects around the country by providing eligible projects with financial assistance; and
-serving as a co-sponsor of the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation Act of 2010 (FREIGHT ACT), the bill provides a platform to focus on the freight network that enables goods and commodities to be transported and reach their markets, as well as help the country reach its energy, environmental, and safety goals, among others

A major factor behind Lautenberg’s involvement in various pieces of freight transportation legislation has to do with the fact that New Jersey is one of the most freight-filled states in the country.

On top of that he was well-respected in various freight transportation circles, too.

“Senator Lautenberg was a champion of the American people,” said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a statement. “He also was a true leader in transportation. Sen. Lautenberg helped to pass landmark transportation legislation throughout his career to improve the health and safety of the traveling public and his tireless work on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and Environment and Public Works committees will be missed.”


The Association of American Railroads also expressed its condolences, too.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Lautenberg, who has been a true leader on rail transportation issues on Capitol Hill,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger.  “His door was always open, and he understood our nation’s interdependent intermodal supply chain and how important it is to America’s economy.  His dedication to protecting the environment and public health was also evident in his advocacy on key transportation issues.  For example, he supported legislative and regulatory initiatives that ensure private freight rail investments continue to help spur rail-intermodal growth, taking trucks off our nation’s already overburdened highways and lowering the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Frank Lautenberg will forever be remembered as a dedicated and loyal servant to America.”

Even those industry stakeholders whom may have not shared common views as Lautenberg regarding facets of transportation policy can concur that he was involved and interested in the freight and supply chain-related legislative issues. While not all were signed into law, he was active on that front and diligent to the very end.

At a time when Congress remains stuck in neutral, it would be nice to see more of our elected officials get involved and try to move things in a forward direction on things which is both relevant and crucial for shippers and carriers.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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