U.S. DOT Calls for National Freight System

In a major step forward for U.S. transportation policy and the nation’s goods movement industry, the Obama Administration, in its 2012 U.S. Department of Transportation Budget Recommendations, calls for the creation of a new national freight plan and policy.

The document recommends that Congress instruct the Secretary to “establish a National Freight Transportation Policy and designate a National Freight Transportation System, which would include the designation of multimodal national freight corridors…and issue a triennial National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan.”

Members of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) commend the Administration for its proposal, long a tenet of CAGTC policy, which the organization believes is vital to fully addressing the needs of the nation’s multimodal goods movement network.

“A truly strategic freight mobility program would serve the economic needs of our country in the near term and for generations to come by investment decisions that optimize freight mobility and support economic expansion and continually improving standards of living,” stated Mortimer L. Downey, III, CAGTC Chairman, Senior Advisor at Parsons Brinckerhoff, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

Downey’s remarks appear today in testimony before the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mr. Downey reiterated the call for federal leadership and guidance on freight policy and stressed the importance for Congress to make a functioning, efficient, multimodal freight system a high priority in the next surface transportation authorization bill.

As part of its Freight 21 proposal, CAGTC recommends that Congress consider including the following elements in legislation addressing America’s freight needs:
• Establishment of a new USDOT Office of Multimodal Freight to develop a national freight plan and achieve
greater efficiency and coherence among surface transportation programs and other federal agencies
• Creation of a dedicated freight program that would provide an adequate, stable funding stream – most
likely from a new freight user fee
• Partnership with the private sector to find ways to leverage public funds and encourage private participation in project financing and development.

“Federal investment in freight infrastructure is firmly supported in the mandates of own Constitution,” Mr. Downey added.

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides to Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states, as well as the authority over that which is “necessary and proper” to carry out these obligations.”

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