The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, led by U.S. Rep John J. Duncan, Jr., R-Tenn., and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., this week released its final report on the current state of freight transportation in the U.S. and its recommendations for freight transportation improvements to strengthen the U.S. economy.
The special panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was established to identify the role of transportation in the U.S. economy; ways to increase the safety, efficiency and condition of the U.S. freight network; how technology can assist in the freight network; and financing options for transportation projects.
"Over the past six months, we have had an opportunity to focus on how best to strengthen the freight network – across all modes of transportation – to meet current and future goods movement demands, whether it be grain shipments on the Mississippi or two-day Amazon.com deliveries to a New York apartment," Rep. Nadler said. "I fully support this bipartisan report, signed by every Member of the Panel, and believe we have made a great start."
The 11-member panel presented its findings, recommending that Congress should:
- Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, to establish a comprehensive national freight transportation policy and designate a national, multimodal freight network;
- Ensure public investment in all modes of transportation, and incentivize private investment in freight transportation facilities;
- Promote and expedite the development and delivery of projects and activities that improve and facilitate the efficient movement of goods;
- Authorize dedicated funding for multimodal freight projects through a grant process and establish clear benchmarks for project selection;
- Direct the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the Army, to identify and recommend sustainable sources of revenue across all modes of transportation that would provide the necessary investment in the Nation's multimodal freight network; and
- Review, working through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Ways and Means, the Secretary's freight funding and revenue recommendations and develop specific funding and revenue options for freight transportation projects prior to Congress' consideration of the surface transportation reauthorization bill in 2014.
The recommendations come after six public hearings, three roundtable discussions and tours of several national freight facilities.
According to the Soy Transportation Coalition, more than 900 million bushels of soybeans are transported by rail, with that volume expected to increase to 1.4 billion bushels by 2021. Barge movements of soybeans are also expected to increase 43% between 2009 and 2021.
Read the full report.