Today, Congresswoman Laura Richardson applauded the passage of H.R. 4348, the "Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012", which provides funding for the federal-aid highway program through Fiscal Year 2014 at current funding levels with a small adjustment for inflation.
"Although the bill is not perfect, and my strong preference was for the House to adopt the bipartisan bill that passed the Senate, the agreement reflected in the bill represents an improvement over the series of short and temporary extensions that has defined the status quo for the past several years," said Congresswoman Richardson.
Among other things, H.R. 4348 makes key investments in the nation's infrastructure that are critical to the movement of goods and people. Specifically, the bill provides for more than $500 million dollars to the Projects of National and Regional Significance program.
Properly funded, this program provides long term congestion relief for passenger and freight movement. The Projects of National and Regional Significance Program will also benefit many large multimodal projects that create thousands of jobs and maintain a sustainable economic environment for the nation.
"As a member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the representative of the 37th Congressional District of California, perhaps the most transportation intensive district in the nation, my legislative agenda and attention has been focused on developing solutions to the major challenges facing the transportation sector, particularly in the areas of goods movement and national freight policy," said Congresswoman Richardson.
"That is why in March of last year, I introduced H.R. 1122, the "Freight is the Future Of Commerce in the United States Act of 2011, commonly referred to as the "Freight FOCUS Act."
This legislation was developed in close consultation with representatives of industry trade associations and has been endorsed by many leading organizations, including the:
American Association of Port Authorities
American Trucking Association (ATA)
International Union of Operating Engineers
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners
Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)
The Waterfront Coalition
National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO)
International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA)
The Fertilizer Institute
Gateway Cities Council of Governments
Will County Center for Economic Development
The Freight FOCUS Act establishes a process for freight planning and prioritizing funding centered around the Office of Freight Planning in the Department of Transportation headed by a new Assistant Secretary. This legislation also creates a Goods Movement Trust Fund, a dedicated source of funding for goods movement projects with safeguards to ensure that equitable allocation of funding for each transportation mode involved.
Transportation hubs across the nation are hampered by aging infrastructure and unsupported transportation corridors. Congresswoman Richardson's district, for example, is home to multiple interstate highways and critical railways (including the Alameda Corridor), traversed annually by more than 40 percent of the nation's freight tonnage. These major freight corridors are responsible for transporting goods to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest port complex in the nation.
"The Freight FOCUS Act lays the foundation for a comprehensive national freight policy that provides for public and private sector involvement; prioritizes major goods movement corridors; funds projects that alleviate goods movement choke points, and; provides adequate funding to mitigate the effects of goods movement on the environment and public health," said Congresswoman Richardson.