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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rep. Smith reintroduces National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Act


On Dec. 8, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) reintroduced the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Act (H.R. 3607), which would provide federal support for the nation’s freight mobility network and critical freight infrastructure improvements.

The legislation calls for the creation of a Freight Mobility Infrastructure Improvement Program within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to provide long-term financing for key infrastructure improvements. States, ports and regional transportation authorities would be able to work in collaboration with non-governmental stakeholders and freight transportation industry entities to identify high-priority projects and apply for federal funds, said Smith in a prepared statement. The USDOT then would award competitive grants based on a project’s freight mobility impacts, cost effectiveness and regional/national economic impact.

“America’s freight transportation system is a national asset and critical to our productivity and global competitiveness,” said Smith. “Over the next 20 years, it is estimated that the volume of domestic freight will double while international freight will triple. This bill ensures our freight and transportation infrastructure remains competitive and strengthens economic growth.”

Funds for the new program would be generated by a freight-specific user fee and deposited into a newly created National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund. The fee would be imposed at a rate of 1 percent on the fair market value of multi-modal ground transportation costs, “with a few exceptions for federal, state and local government transportation, and transport within a local geographic area,” said Smith. Among the types of projects eligible to receive the funds: grade separations, rail and highway tunnel expansions, new intermodal facilities, and new highway lanes that separate freight and passenger traffic.

The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) applauded Smith’s efforts to reintroduce the measure.

“America has been under-investing in its transportation for many years, but goods movement projects have been especially neglected,” said CAGTC Executive Director Leslie Blakey in a prepared statement. “The Smith legislation will call the attention of many in Congress to the importance of establishing and adequately funding a new and comprehensive goods movement program.”

Earlier this year, another bill that targets federal freight transportation funding and infrastructure improvements — the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment and Guidance to Help Transportation Act of 2011, or FREIGHT Act (H.R. 1338/S. 371) — was reintroduced in Congress.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/12/2011