DOT introduces National Freight Advisory Committee

By Jeff Berman · February 15, 2013

In another example of freight transportation’s increasing role in helping the United States economy making needed inroads, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said this week that the National Freight Advisory Committee has been formed.

DOT said the objective of the committee is to provide recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation on how DOT can improve its freight transportation policies and programs.

A significant component of last summer’s transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan which encourages state freight plans and advisory committees, and provides incentives for states that fund projects to improve freight movement, focusing on reducing congestion, increasing productivity, improving the safety, security and resilience of freight transportation.

MAP-21 also calls for the development of a National Freight Strategic Plan which encourages state freight plans and advisory committees, and provides incentives for states that fund projects to improve freight movement, focusing on reducing congestion, increasing productivity, improving the safety, security and resilience of freight transportation.

DOT explained that by engaging stakeholders that represent diverse geographic, modal, and policy interests like safety, labor, and the environment, the committee will in turn provide recommendations to LaHood regarding ways in which freight transportation policies and programs can be augmented.

“Our freight system is the lifeblood of the American economy,” said LaHood in a statement. “We must ensure that our freight system is stronger and better connected.”
DOT said it is now soliciting nominations for members of the National Freight Advisory Committee, with instructions on how to submit nominations coming out in the Federal Register soon.

It added that the committee’s collaboration of stakeholders will serve to promote involvement and compliance with proposed plans and performance measures and support the implementation of larger freight policy initiatives.

The Freight Advisory Committee will be made up of a minimum of 25 voting members outside of DOT whom have various perspectives on freight transportation, including mode, region, policy areas, freight customers and providers, and government entities and will meet at least three times per year, said DOT.

This plan was endorsed by various freight transportation experts.

“This is a big deal and something we have asked DOT to do for some time,” said Mort Downey, Coalitions for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) Chairman former deputy Transportation Secretary under President Clinton. “As they proceed with their strategize freight plan and with the long term steps to carry out an effective freight program, such an advisory group can play a very critical role.”

CAGTC Executive Director Leslie Blakey also lauded this news.

“Creation of this Committee shows great leadership by the Administration and serves as further evidence of their commitment to improving U.S. freight mobility,” said Blakey in a statement. “Our Coalition has long-held that regular coordination and consultation between the private and public sectors at the national level would benefit freight movement and improve policy-making. This Committee will contribute practical experience to the process of implementing MAP-21 freight provisions, while helping to lay a path with creative concepts for freight in the next authorization.” 

Another major component of the National Freight Advisory Committee is to support the implementation of DOT’s Freight Policy Council, which was rolled out in August.

The objective of the Freight Policy Council is to focus on improving the condition and performance of the national freight network to better ensure the ability of the U.S. to compete in the global economy. DOT added that the Freight Policy Council will develop a national intermodal plan for improving the efficiency of freight movement and also work with states to encourage development of a forward-looking state freight strategy.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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