Special T&I Panel Report Recommends National Freight Policy, PPPs

The Transportation and Infrastructure’s Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation released its final report on the current state of freight transportation in the U.S. this week, and called for Congress to direct the Department of Transportation to establish a comprehensive national freight transportation policy and encourage the use of public-private partnerships and innovative financing for freight projects.

The panel also recommended that Congress direct the appropriate agencies to designate a national, multimodal freight network and identify and recommend sustainable sources of revenue across all modes of transportation to fund the network.

The panel, led by Chairman U.S. Rep John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), was established by the T&I Full Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) and Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-W.V.) in April. The committee will use the report when drafting the next highway bill.

“The smooth movement of cargo across our transportation network is an essential ingredient in increasing American competitiveness and growing American jobs,” Rep. Rahall said. “The substantive and insightful recommendations made by this bipartisan panel will be of tremendous benefit to our Committee as we craft the next surface transportation bill and look to spur investment in all our transportation modes.”

To examine key transportation issues, the panel held six public hearings and three roundtable discussions, toured freight facilities in Southern California, the Memphis region, the New York City/Northern New Jersey region, and Norfolk, Virginia, and held numerous briefings with freight industry professionals and other interested parties.

Among its findings, the panel recommends that Congress should:

  • Ensure robust public investment in all modes of transportation on which freight movement relies and incentivize additional private investment in freight transportation facilities to maintain and improve the condition and performance of the freight transportation network;

  • Promote and expedite the development and delivery of projects and activities that improve and facilitate the efficient movement of goods;
  • Authorize dedicated, sustainable funding for multimodal freight projects of national and regional significance through a grant process and establish clear benchmarks for project selection. Projects eligible for such funding would have a regional or national impact on the overall performance of the multimodal freight network identified by the Secretary of Transportation;
  • Review, working through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Ways and Means, the Secretary’s freight funding and revenue recommendations and develop specific funding and revenue options for freight transportation projects prior to Congress’ consideration of the surface transportation reauthorization bill in 2014.

“Over the past six months, we have had an opportunity to focus on how best to strengthen the freight network – across all modes of transportation – to meet current and future goods movement demands, whether it be grain shipments on the Mississippi or two-day Amazon.com deliveries to a New York apartment. I fully support this bipartisan report, signed by every Member of the Panel, and believe we have made a great start,” Rep. Nadler said.

The complete report of the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation can be read here.

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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