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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Major transportation stakeholders urge USDOT to create national freight office


Sixteen U.S. transportation industry stakeholders recently teamed up to send a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to urge the establishment of an Office of Multimodal Freight Infrastructure and Policy within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Dated Aug. 30, the letter was signed by the leaders of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition; Airforwarders Association; American Association of Port Authorities; American Apparel & Footwear Association; American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; American Trucking Associations; Association of American Railroads; Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors; Consumer Brands Association; Intermodal Association of North America; National Association of Manufacturers; National Association of Waterfront Employees; National Retail Federation; Travel Goods Association; and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Supply chain issues continue to be a major concern for the business community. While we no longer face historic backlogs at our nation’s most significant gateways, new geopolitical challenges, shifting trade routes and underlying trends of re-shoring and nearshoring are creating new challenges and opportunities,” the letter states. “Simply put, supply chains will continue to drive the interest of business leaders, freight stakeholders and policymakers at the state and federal level.”

A national freight office would serve as an important tool to help coordinate activities across the federal government and provide senior-level leadership to guide federal decision-making regarding supply-chain competitiveness, security and fluidity, the letter signers believe.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act requires the creation of a freight office, but a formal organization structure hasn’t yet been implemented and a policymaking apparatus hasn’t yet been developed, they wrote.

“We find this concerning as this office promises to play a crucial role in the development of long-term multimodal freight planning, as well as serve as a critical coordination point between the departments of state, commerce, energy and homeland security,” the letter states. “Without the necessary leadership in place, much of this interagency coordination is occurring on an ad-hoc basis, impacting the efficiency and decision-making in how these tasks are carried out.”