House T&I panel releases freight transportation report

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

In a rare display of bipartisan functionality on Capitol Hill, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation has released its final report on the current state of freight transportation in the U.S. and its recommendations for freight transportation improvements to strengthen the national economy.

To “safely and efficiently meet the needs of freight movement in the 21st century,” the Freight Panel recommends that Congress should:

• “Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, to establish a comprehensive national freight transportation policy and designate a national, multimodal freight network.”

• “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.”

• “Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Army, to identify and recommend sustainable sources of revenue across all modes of transportation that would provide the necessary investment in the Nation’s multimodal freight network and align contributions with use of, and expected benefit of increased investment in, such a network.”

• “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.”

The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation was established by T&I Full Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-W.Va.) in April. It was led by Chairman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn., pictured) and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

In addition to Duncan and Nadler, the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation included Republican members Gary Miller (Calif.), Rick Crawford (Ariz.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Daniel Webster (Fla.), and Markwayne Mullin (Okla.); and Democratic members Corrine Brown (Fla.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.), Albio Sires (N.J.), and Janice Hahn (Calif.). The Panel held six public hearings, three roundtable discussions, toured freight facilities in Southern California, the Memphis region, the New York City/Northern New Jersey region, and Norfolk, Va., and held numerous briefings with freight industry professionals and other interested parties.

Under the rules of the T&I Committee, the Chairman may create special panels for the purpose of examining specific issues within the Committee’s jurisdiction. The Freight Panel was the first such panel established, and it examined the current state of freight transportation in the U.S. to identify (1) the role freight transportation plays in the U.S. economy; (2) ways to increase the efficiency, safety, and overall condition and performance of the nation’s freight network; (3) how technology assists in the movement of freight; and (4) financing options for transportation projects that improve freight mobility.

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