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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rep. Smith reintroduces freight infrastructure reinvestment bill


U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on Jan. 9 reintroduced the Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act, which would provide funding for freight transportation and infrastructure improvements.

The Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2014 (H.R. 3825) would establish the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Improvement Program through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The program would provide competitive grants to states and designated entities to improve the efficiency and capacity of freight networks.

The entities could work in collaboration with communities to identify projects of national or regional significance and apply for the grants. The USDOT would award funds based on a project's ability to improve freight infrastructure, its cost effectiveness and economic impact.

"Our nation's freight transportation system plays a significant role in our ability to grow the economy and compete globally," said Smith in a press release. "With our nation's freight expected to double by 2040, it is critical to start making investments in freight and transportation infrastructure now to keep America competitive internationally for years to come."

The legislation would fund the competitive grants through a 1 percent user fee charged on U.S. freight shipments. All collected fees would go directly to the national freight mobility fund.

"More and more our government and business leaders are agreeing that freight infrastructure is key to economic growth and merits public support," said Leslie Blakey, executive director of the Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors. "Currently absent from the menu of transportation investment mechanisms is a freight-specific grant program and a dedicated funding source."

Cosponsored by Reps. Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), H.R. 3825 was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.