Could the U.S. Have a Federal Policy on Freight?

CSX_Train.JPG The United States could soon have, for the first time, an official federal policy on freight if a bill introduced this week in the Senate becomes law. Three Senators, lead by Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, introduced a bill that would make it the policy of the United States "to improve the efficiency, operation, and security of the national transportation system to move freight." The bill, titled Focusing Resources, Economic Investment and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act of 2010, enumerates five primary objectives to achieve this policy goal:

•    Reduce delays at international points of entry
•    Increase travel time reliability on major freight corridors
•    Reduce by 10 percent the number of freight related fatalities by 2015
•    Reduce national freight related CO2 levels by 40 percent by 2030
•    Reduce freight related air, water, and noise pollution

The bill establishes within the Department of Transportation an Office of Freight Planning and Development, and gives the DOT two years to develop a National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan that would guide federal investment to achieve these goals.

The bill also establishes a competitive grant program to provide funding for capital investments for freight projects. These grants could go towards projects such as port or intermodal facility improvement, freight rail improvement or capacity expansion, and Intelligent Transportation Systems to reduce congestion.  It also mandates that the DOT develop new tools "to support an outcome-oriented, performance-based approach to evaluate proposed freight-related" projects.

Click here read the complete text of the bill