Last week I was honored to be appointed to a special panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee charged with examining challenges facing our Nation's freight transportation system. It is a privilege to be one of only eleven members in the House of Representatives asked to serve on this panel and I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to ensure our Nation's freight transportation infrastructure can meet the demands of America's job creators.
Freight transportation is vital to the rural economy of Arkansas's First District. Our Congressional District is home to Arkansas's entire Mississippi River frontage and we understand the value of ports and inland waterways. Additionally, truck and rail freight transportation are key to getting the crops grown in Arkansas fields to a global market. On the Freight Transportation Panel I bring a rural perspective and am a voice for opportunity in rural corners of America.
In 2011, the U.S. transportation system moved 17.6 billion tons of goods, valued at over $18.8 trillion. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that in the next 30 years, there will be 60 percent more freight that must be moved across the Nation. If we want America to remain competitive with other nations, we must a have a twenty-first century infrastructure system in place.
With the country facing over $17 trillion in debt, we must scrutinize every investment. We must remember the way we invest is as important as how much we invest. The government's number one concern should be supporting programs that encourage economic growth, job creation and ultimately benefits all Americans. For decades, improving roads, bridges, ports, rail and airports have been a source of American innovation and played a pivotal role in overall economic growth. I am proud to be part of a select panel with the goal of improving freight transportation in America and I look forward to improving access rural Arkansans have to quality freight transportation systems.