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Rail News: Intermodal

Federal and state transportation agencies are behind the times in the new intermodal age, ITI's Carmichael says


U.S. federal and state transportation agencies remain locked in obsolete policy structures that don’t address intermodal transportation, which has evolved into the global standard for moving freight, Gil Carmichael told the Mississippi Senate Highways and Transportation Committee during a Sept. 14 speech.

“The intermodal network is sharply focused on speed, safety, reliable scheduling and economic feasibility that builds on the strengths of each mode,” said Carmichael, a former Federal Railroad Administrator who chairs the University of Denver’s Intermodal Transportation Institute. “But all the transportation innovation and progress that has occurred during the past quarter century has come about due to private-sector initiatives.”

Government officials still view transportation modes in isolation and mostly focus on infrastructure that supports a single mode.

“Some regional planning agencies have actually developed transportation plans that devote more attention to bicycle paths than freight and passenger transportation,” said Carmichael.

To address the new intermodal age, Carmichael recommends state departments of transportation:
• be managed by a member appointed by the governor who will work closely with programs under the governor’s jurisdiction;
• be run by a chief executive whose principal duties are to oversee policies and programs associated with freight and passenger transportation; and
• employ senior executives who have a working knowledge intermodal transportation.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/18/2006