Friday, July 23, 2010

AAR lauds Senate FREIGHT bill

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The Association of American Railroads Thursday enthusiastically threw its support behind the “Focusing Resources, EconomicInvestment and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act of 2010,” introduced earlier in the day by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

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“We applaud the leadership of Senators Lautenberg, Murray, and Cantwell in advancing the nation’s freight policy and promoting public-private partnerships that enable the safe and efficient movement of goods by rail,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger (pictured at left).

“This bill recognizes the importance of rail in that national policy—as the safest, most fuel efficient and highly cost effective way to move both people and goods,” Hamberger said. “Freight railroads can move one ton of freight 480 miles on a single gallon of fuel and provide the vital link between American businesses and the global marketplace. Freight rail is well positioned to help meet the goals envisioned by the Senators, and outlined in this bill.”

Lautenberg, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said Senate bill S. 3629 would direct the Department of Transportation to develop and implement a National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan. In addition, it would create an Office of Freight Planning and Development to target grant money enhancing freight rail routes, ports, and multimodal infrastructure. Some observers noted a lack of any focus on truck-specific items.

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In a statement, Lautenberg (pictured at right) said, “We are long overdue in establishing a national freight transportation policy that will meet the economic and mobility demands of the 21st century.” He added, “Poor planning and underinvestment in our transportation infrastructure has led to increased congestion at our ports, highways, airports, and railways, and increases the cost of doing business. If we want to help U.S. businesses succeed and create new jobs, we need a freight transportation system that works better and can grow with the changing needs of the global economy. This bill would put us on that path.”