Freight Policy Council Launched

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced the launch of the Freight Policy Council, which will focus on improving the condition and performance of the US freight network.  The council will develop a national, intermodal plan for improving the efficiency of the freight movement and will work with states to encourage development of a forward-looking state strategy.
Secretary LaHood commented:  “Our freight system is the lifeblood of the American economy, moving goods quickly and efficiently to benefit both businesses and consumers across the country.  With the launch of the Freight Policy Council, we have an opportunity to make not only our freight system, but all modes of transportation, stronger and better connected.”
The recent transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), signed by President Obama in July, established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a national freight strategic plan.  The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Freight Policy Council will implement the key freight provisions of the legislation.  A strong freight transportation system is essential for helping to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling US exports by 2015.
Chaired by Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari, the council will include DOT leadership from highways, rail, ports and airports, and economic and policy experts from across the administration.  The freight and logistics industries, consumers and other stakeholders will play an advisory role, and states will be asked to offer proposals in improving their freight systems.
A DOT statement said that every American is responsible for 40 tons of freight per year, and that a more efficient freight network would reduce traffic congestion, environmental impact and shipping costs, ultimately leading to lower prices for consumers.
Over $953 million in DOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover (TIGER) funds have gone to 50 projects that improve freight.  More than a third of TIGER funding — $354 million — went to 25 port projects from coast to coast.  Under MAP-21, freight projects can qualify for $1.75 billion in Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) funding for the next two years.