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On Sept. 30, Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) introduced the Freight is the Future Of Commerce in the United States (Freight FOCUS) Act of 2010 (H.R. 6291), which calls for increasing federal support for freight transportation infrastructure.
The bill proposes to create an Office of Freight Planning at the U.S. Department of Transportation that would be led by an assistant secretary for freight planning; establish a national freight plan and process for multi-modal freight planning and funding prioritization; designate freight corridors of national significance and form corresponding corridor coalitions; and create a separate goods movement trust fund for the nation’s freight needs. The legislation would be funded by a 12 cent increase in the diesel tax paid by trucks and $3 billion transferred each year from the general fund into the goods movement trust fund.
“Transportation hubs across the nation are hampered by aging infrastructure and unsupported transportation corridors,” said Richardson in a prepared statement. “The bill provides for public and private sector involvement in the process, prioritizes major goods movement corridors, funds projects to alleviate choke points, and provides funding to mitigate the effects of goods movement on the environment and public health.”
The Freight FOCUS Act is supported by the American Truckers Association, Waterfront Coalition, Retail Industry Leaders Association, International Union of Operating Engineers, Port of Long Beach, and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, according to Richardson.
Coalition for America’s Gateways & Trade Corridors (CAGTC) officials believe the bill underscores the growing recognition of the need to increase federal support for freight infrastructure.
“There is growing consensus around a dedicated, federal freight program to address this country’s goods movement needs,” said CAGTC Executive Director Leslie Blakey. “H.R. 6291 calls attention to the system’s needs and will contribute to the important debate over how our nation should go about providing for our goods movement system demands.”