New Billboards in New York City Area Blame the Onerous Jones Act for Snarling Traffic
Stuck in traffic? In 2018, Americans lost an average of 97 hours to traffic congestion, costing them nearly $87 billion—an average of $1,348 per driver.
Most of the congestion occurs in and around major metropolitan areas along interstates running parallel to the Atlantic Ocean (I-95), the Gulf Coast (I-10), and the Pacific Coast (I-5), where ocean transport via container ship would be a more efficient alternative—that is, except for an antiquated law called the “Jones Act.”
The Jones Act is a 99-year old law that restricts shipping between two ports in the United States to vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S.-flagged, and U.S.-crewed. Although the law was intended to bolster U.S. shipbuilding capacity and ensure a robust maritime services industry, it has had the opposite outcome.
The U.S. shipbuilding industry has atrophied to the point that approximately 300 shipyards have closed since 1983, the number of shipyard workers has shrunk from 186,700 in 1981 to 94,000 today, and the number of Jones Act compliant ships has diminished from 326 in 1982 to 99 today.
This means less coastal shipping, which explains why there are so many more trucks and so much more traffic congestion on our highways today.