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FREIGHT Act returns for second act in Senate


The FREIGHT Act is back in the Senate. On Feb. 16, Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) reintroduced the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act, which Lautenberg previously introduced in July 2010.

Similar to last year’s version of the bill, the FREIGHT Act of 2011 (S. 371) would create a new National Freight Infrastructure Grants initiative, a competitive, merit-based program designed to provide broad eligibility for multi-modal freight projects, such as freight-rail capacity expansions, port infrastructure improvements and highway projects that improve access to freight facilities.

The legislation also would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to develop and implement a National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan to guide and inform goods movement infrastructure investments, and an Office of Freight Planning and Development led by an assistant secretary for freight planning and development. The USDOT then would be required to issue biennial progress reports, which would include any challenges to implementation, and any requested policy and legislative changes.  

The FREIGHT Act aims to reduce delays of goods and commodities moving into and out of intermodal facilities; increase travel time reliability on major freight corridors; reduce the number of freight transportation-related fatalities 10 percent by 2015; cut national freight transportation-related carbon dioxide levels 40 percent by 2030; and reduce freight transportation-related air, water and noise pollution levels. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“The United States has the largest freight transportation system in the world, but there’s work to be done to ensure it continues operating efficiently, safely and cleanly in the 21st Century,” said Lautenberg — who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security — in a prepared statement. “Improving the flow of goods through our ports, highways, railways and airports will help American industry thrive in a global economy.”

The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) hailed the senators for reintroducing the FREIGHT Act, which will “lead the charge to transform this nation’s approach to transportation policy and support economic recovery,” coalition officials believe.

“The bill provides a visionary, comprehensive, systemic approach to infrastructure investment that addresses the nation’s commerce needs while providing a solid foundation that will also help our nation meet its energy, environmental and safety goals,” said CAGTC Chairman Mort Downey, a former U.S. deputy secretary of transportation, in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/22/2011