On July 30, 2010, U.S. Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Laura Richardson (D-CA), and Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced legislation to create a national freight transportation policy. The "Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act of 2010" will implement a strategic plan to guide the goods movement, create an office devoted to freight planning within the Department of Transportation (DOT), and establish a competitive grant program for freight transportation projects.
"It is important that we make our freight transportation system as efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly as possible to compete in a changing global economy," said Congressman Sires. "The FREIGHT Act will help us achieve national objectives of bettering our communities through reduced congestion and pollution while simultaneously stimulating our economy and helping businesses to grow. The establishment of a national freight transportation policy will benefit not only my district in New Jersey, which has the largest port on the East Coast, but will also spur economic development throughout the country."
"Investing in our freight transportation system will create jobs, promote economic development and increase U.S. competitiveness," said Congressman Cohen. "The FREIGHT Act goes a long way toward moving our transportation network in the right direction as we continue to compete in a rapidly changing global economy that depends on timeliness and efficiency when shipping goods."
"Safe, clean and efficient freight transportation is a priority for both the growth and stability of our nation and for the people of my district, through which 40 percent of our nation's goods are transported each year," Congresswoman Richardson said. "The FREIGHT ACT is an excellent beginning point to start the discussion of how to meets the ideals of good government and good planning, from improving the economy and our nation's businesses to cutting down on traffic congestion and pollution. As we work to perfect the manner in which our nation plans its transportation system, we will create a system whose impacts will be felt for years to come."
"As our economy continues to grow and evolve, we must ensure that our country's infrastructure expands and adapts to meet our economy's growing needs," said Congressman Adam Smith. "With commerce and trade expected to continue to become an even greater percentage of our economy, the demand placed on our national infrastructure will only continue to grow. We must respond to these challenges with a comprehensive plan that creates jobs, protects the environment and improves the freight transportation infrastructure of our nation. This bill is an important step in that direction."
This legislation calls for the establishment of an Office of Freight Planning and Developments within the DOT to be led by the Assistant Secretary of Freight Planning and Development. This Office will be instrumental in creating the National Freight Strategic Transportation Plan, which will assess the current national freight transportation system and the ability to achieve future objectives and goals. This Plan will also designate priority freight corridors and gateways.
Additionally, a National Freight Infrastructure Investment Grants program will be created for freight transportation infrastructure including port development, freight rail improvement, and other projects that will improve access to freight facilities. These competitive grants will be used for projects that have the highest system performance improvement relative to their benefit-cost analysis. Major objectives of this legislation include promoting energy conservation, advancing public safety, improving reliability of the transportation system, strengthening U.S. economic competitiveness, and promoting partnerships between Federal, State, and local governments along with the private sector and other transportation stakeholders.
The FREIGHT Act was introduced as the House companion to S. 3629 introduced by U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) on July 22, 2010. The bill is endorsed by the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors. Click here to view the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors' support letter.