Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Congressman Introduces Freight Infrastructure Bill

By Mark Edward Nero

US Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) on Oct. 3 said he has introduced a bill that would annually provide billions of dollars for construction of seaport projects such as on-dock rail, terminals and cargo loading areas.

The bill, HR 5624, is also known as Economy in Motion: The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act, was submitted to the House of Representatives Sept. 18. It proposes the formation of a freight program that would be funded through the implementation of a one percent waybill fee on transported cargo.

Lowenthal’s legislation would create a two-part incentive formula program, available in states that develop freight plans and form freight advisory committees as encouraged under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, aka MAP-21, which President Obama signed into law in 2012.

The measure also would establish a national competitive grant program with broad, multimodal project eligibility. A new freight trust fund would provide as much as $8 billion annually for freight infrastructure-improvement projects across all modes.

“The movement of goods is one of the most important economic engines in our nation,” Lowenthal said in a news release announcing the legislation. “The infrastructure this engine depends on is crumbling and we must fix it, make it stronger, and make it better. My bill would do this while also taking action to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts that are the unintended consequence of goods movement.”

Leslie Blakey, President and Executive Director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, which represents a coalition of more than 60 public and private organizations dedicated to increasing federal investment in America’s intermodal freight infrastructure, said she applauds the Congressman for proposing both an investment plan and a revenue generation strategy.

“Congressman Lowenthal’s bill has added a significant piece to the freight dialogue,” she said. “Each day, our nation’s freight infrastructure needs grow and a strategic campaign of public investment is needed.”