MOVE Freight Act of 2013 focuses on creating a national freight plan for moving goods via all modes
March 07, 2013 - LM Editorial
New legislation introduced this week by New Jersey Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) is geared to augment United States freight transportation policy by creating a national plan for moving goods efficiently by road, rail, water, and air, according to Sires’ office.
Entitled the Multimodal Opportunities via Enhanced (MOVE) Freight Act of 2013, the bill has five co-sponsors: Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Corrine Brown (D-FL) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA).
A chief directive of the bill, as outlined by Sires’ office, is to ensure the various and essential modes of the U.S. freight network are accounted for and provide investment in freight transportation projects.
“With freight volumes expected to more than double by 2040 to nearly $40 trillion annually, it is imperative that our nation craft a strategic, all-inclusive freight policy that provides for the reliable, efficient, and safe movement of goods,” Sires said in a statement.
And his office explained that the bill will expand the definition of the national freight network to include rail, navigable waterways, inland ports, seaports, freight intermodal connectors, airports, and aerotropolis transportation systems to establish a modern freight policy and ensure U.S. global competitiveness.
Another major component of the bill calls for the creation of a National Freight Infrastructure Investments Grants program, with port development, freight rail development, intelligent transportation systems, and other projects to improve goods movement as eligible projects. According to the bill, competitive grants will be awarded to projects with the highest system performance relative to their benefit cost analysis.
The introduction of this bill follows the official signing of last summer’s MAP-21, the successor to SAFETEA-LU, which had been extended at current funding levels ten times.
While MAP-21 has several pieces that are related to freight, officials from the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) said there is more work to be done.
“MAP-21 put freight planning on the map, but there is still work to be done. The MOVE Freight Act would ensure all modes carrying our nation’s freight receive full attention in the development of a national plan, and it would also establish a competitive grant program to assist in financing worthy goods movement projects,” said Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) Chairman Mortimer Downey. “Our multimodal freight network is a critical national asset, supporting our economy and ensuring American-produced goods arrive in domestic and foreign markets – it is crucial we strengthen this network with strategic investments and planning.”
CAGTC outlined four key aspects of the bill that ensure freight network modes are accounted for, including:
-Identification of Freight as a national priority, citing U.S.DOT, U.S. freight shipments will more than double between 2010 and 2040 to roughly $39.5 trillion annually, with an estimated $10.3 trillion worth of goods using multiple modes of transportation each year;
-Inclusion of Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure in the National Freight Network: The National Freight Network established by MAP-21 calls for the designation of 27,000 centerline miles of roadways essential to freight movement serves as a target for state investment; the MOVE Freight Act calls for 27,000 miles of critical freight corridors, to include roadways, freight rail, navigable waterways, inland ports, seaports, freight intermodal connectors, airports, and aerotropolis transportation systems;
-Requirement that States Create State Freight Plans: MAP-21 encourages states to develop state freight plans; the MOVE Freight Act requires states to develop state freight plans, which are critical to the development of a well informed and effective national freight policy; and
-National Freight Infrastructure Investment Grants: Establishes a competitive grant program to provide financial assistance for capital investments in freight transportation infrastructure to States, political subdivision of States, government-sponsored authorities and corporations, and the District of Columbia.
CAGTC Executive Director Leslie Blakey said that this bill re-emphasizes the multimodal nature of the U.S. freight transportation system.
“We applaud that entirely, as that is how it should really be looked at,” she told LM. “This bill in a way is an opportunity to revisit MAP-21 and broaden the concept of the freight pieces in MAP-21 to be multimodal in nature. That is really the way the bill is designed, as well as to redesign the national network, or the idea that this is not state-by-state. The bill calls for individual state plans, which is good but states need to be working together. We need to be looking at this from a national perspective…with a large federal role in developing and supporting our national freight network. This is done by taking MAP-21, which is a good start and improving on it.”
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