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Congress should create a federal trust fund to help finance freight transportation projects, intermodal coalition says


The U.S. government needs to establish a federal trust fund to help finance freight transportation projects because imports and exports will double by 2020, according to the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC).

Foreign trade currently accounts for about one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and imports will increase 33 percent during the next 10 years, resulting in port, rail and highway congestion. A 2005 study found congestion caused 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and wasted 2.3 billion gallons of fuel, costing a total of $63 billion, according to CAGTC, a coalition of more than 40 organizations that aim to increase federal funding for U.S. intermodal freight infrastructure.

CAGTC recommends Congress establish a Freight Trust Fund that would:
• provide dedicated and sustained funding for all modes, and for multi-jurisdictional and multi-state projects;
• increase trust fund revenue as the demand for goods movements rise;
• incorporate all potential funding mechanisms and sources, including customs and cargo fees;
• link funding with projects in a manner similar to Full Funding Grant Agreements; and
• make funds available in a “pay as you go” system.

“The National Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission established by SAFETEA-LU must include dedicated freight funding as a top priority,” said CAGTC Executive Director Leslie Blakey in a prepared statement.

However, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) doesn’t back CAGTC’s call for a federal trust fund.

“The AAR has consistently opposed — and remains unalterably opposed — to any scheme that would establish a trust fund that covers freight railroads,” association officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/22/2006