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Freight report outlines need for infrastructure investment

The port in Jacksonville, Fla., opened a new rail terminal last month.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today released a national freight infrastructure report designed to serve as a blueprint for state transportation departments, Congress and President-elect Donald Trump's administration to address the nation's critical infrastructure needs.

The "State of Freight II: Implementing the FAST Act and Beyond" report's release marks the one-year anniversary of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

The report shows that while states are making progress, improvements to critical freight infrastructure have not kept pace with current and future demands, according to a press release issued by AASHTO. The report offers recommendations to leverage private-sector investment and move lawmakers to provide additional and ongoing funding resources outside of the Highway Trust Fund.

Both associations agree that a well-functioning freight transportation system is the essential building block for a thriving economy,  AASHTO and AAPA officials said.

To help states plan sustainable investments in a national freight network, AAPA and AASHTO recommend several approaches, including:
• having the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) continue providing Highway Trust Fund allocations to states for highway freight projects through the National Highway Freight program;
• having the USDOT coordinate its Build America Bureau and freight advisory committees with state freight plans to better leverage private-sector investment;
• asking Congress to provide additional and ongoing funding resources outside of the trust fund for the overall multimodal freight network in a way that supplements highway formula dollars and funds discretionary grant programs; and,
• moving the Harbor Maintenance Tax from discretionary to mandatory spending to enable all the revenue from the tax collections to be used for maintenance of deep draft navigation channels and providing more equity.

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More News from 12/6/2016