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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

February 2008



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Politicians put out call for free-flowing freight



Every major U.S. port is projected to at least double cargo volume by 2020. But the nation’s transportation infrastructure already has severe chokepoints and wouldn’t be able to absorb such a freight traffic increase in its present state.

That’s why U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) last month introduced Our Nation’s Trade Infrastructure, Mobility and Efficiency Act, or the ON TIME Act (H.R. 5102). The bill proposes to establish a trade-based funding stream dedicated to high-priority transportation projects to alleviate traffic congestion in federally designated corridors.

The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a freight fee (capped at $500) based on the value of goods moving into or out of a port and dedicate the funds to local National Trade Gateway Corridors. Defined as targeted areas around the nation’s more than 300 points of entry, the corridors would include ports, airports and border crossings.

The corridors would incorporate routes up to 300 miles from entry points and be defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation in consultation with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Funds generated by the fees would be targeted at projects designed to relieve freight transportation chokepoints and bottlenecks, and be distributed on an 80 percent federal/20 percent matching fund basis.

Projects eligible to receive funding include grade separations, publicly owned intermodal freight transfer facilities, freeway expansions and dedicated truck lanes located within a National Trade Gateway Corridor.

The bill also would empower state transportation agencies to identify and prioritize eligible projects.


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