WASHINGTON- Yesterday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) questioned Ian Jefferies, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Railroads, about infrastructure needs at the Port of Duluth. The exchange came during a Commerce Committee hearing titled, “America’s Infrastructure Needs: Keeping Pace with a Growing Economy,” which focused on opportunities for infrastructure improvement, including federal funding, financing programs, and streamlining the permitting and regulatory processes.

“The Port of Duluth supports industries from agriculture to manufacturing—it’s the largest and busiest port on the Great Lakes with 900 vessels and an average of 35 million short tons of cargo per year. We … have been able to enhance that port and new intermodal terminals opened for Canadian National Railway and Duluth Cargo Connect. As you see this port traffic increase, as we see the future of some of our economic growth, getting goods to market and exporting, what kind of investments are needed to support the flow of intermodal cargo shipments?” Klobuchar asked.

Jefferies responded, “For Railroads part, we’re investing $25 billion a year back into our networks, so once it hits the railroad, we have the capacity to move the product. On the intermodal connector, first mile last mile port infrastructure, we think there’s an absolute need for robust federal role, be it through a public-private partnership or direct funding to the port to ensure that again, once we get to that first mile last mile, we often run into congestion, so let’s smooth that out, and really provide a streamlined process because it is an integrated network.”

Klobuchar has long fought to build a 21st-century infrastructure network that meets the demands of our 21st-century economy, including safe bridges, modern highways, forward-looking public transportation, increased broadband access, and integrated planning decisions. She was one of the first Democratic senators to support the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which is a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that became law in December 2015.

Video of the exchange can be found here.