Monday, October 19, 2015

Transport Secretary Releases Freight Strategic Plan

By Mark Edward Nero

On Oct. 18, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released the draft National Freight Strategic Plan, which offers specific policy proposals and solutions to address the growing challenges of moving freight in America.

The draft plan was unveiled by Foxx in Seattle. He was joined for the announcement by Sen. Maria Cantwell at Seattle Public School Headquarters.

The draft proposes solutions and strategies to address the infrastructure, institutional and financial bottlenecks that hinder the safe and efficient movement of goods, plus identifies successful programs already in place to improve freight planning and investment, and proposes new programs and ideas that could make more progress possible.

“With an increasingly competitive and complex global marketplace and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure that is unfortunately showing the effects of age and underinvestment, the need for us to have a national freight plan could not be more urgent,” Foxx said.

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, freight shipments last month reached an all-time high and 30.4 percent higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession. Concerns remain within the US government that the country’s infrastructure can’t accommodate continued growth: In the next 30 years America’s population is expected to grow by 70 million people, while freight traffic is expected to increase by 42 percent by 2040.

Specific strategies include:

• Ensuring dedicated freight funding. The draft plan emphasizes the importance of a dedicated freight program to improve the movement of freight and meet regional economic demand. It would also require or incentivize State Freight Advisory Committees, State Freight Plans, and cross-jurisdictional/cooperative planning.

• Identification of major trade gateways and multimodal national freight networks/corridors. The Dept. of Transportation is releasing a draft Multimodal Freight Network map to inform planners, private sector stakeholders, and the public about where major freight flows occur and where special attention to freight issues may be most warranted.

• Continuing to support local, state, and interagency collaboration, including close cooperation with port authorities, private sector stakeholders, and agencies in Canada and Mexico; sharing best practices for freight planning; supporting advisory committees and public forums with stakeholders; and encouraging effective use of funding available at the national level.

Other strategies outlined include: development and deployment of newer and more advanced freight data resources; improvement of safety and support of the adoption of new transportation technologies; and development of the next generation freight transportation workforce.

“Congestion on rails, surface streets, and at our ports across the Pacific Northwest costs businesses billions of dollars a year and gives an edge to competitors around the globe. The National Freight Strategic Plan means places like Seattle and Tacoma will be part of our national strategy to quickly move products through traffic congested areas,” Cantwell said. More information about the draft plan is available at