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US freight infrastructure ‘demands bipartisan priority’

2019-02-11 Source: Jctrans

Intermodal coalition says the nation’s freight infrastructure is ‘unacceptable’, seeking increased Federal funding for goods movement projects to support economic growth

As the US President and Congress gathered last night for the annual State of the Union address, freight infrastructure lobby group the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) said that although the US’s two political parties “may grapple to find commonality, one fact remains clear to all: the state of our union’s freight infrastructure is unacceptable”. Emphasizing the benefits accrued by improving national economic competitiveness through strategic infrastructure investment, CAGTC urged the Administration and Congress to unite in the coming months on infrastructure, calling it “a bipartisan bright spot”, and adding: “Our nation’s five major economic sectors – manufacturing, retail, agriculture, natural resources, and transportation – represent 85% of our national economy and rely on the efficient and cost-effective movement of goods. Moreover, goods movement projects, both highway and multimodal, reduce congestion for all motorists. CAGTC executive director Elaine Nessle commented: “Infrastructure investment is a bipartisan issue at its core. For too many years, Federal freight infrastructure investment has lagged while our population and national economy grow. “This financial burden cannot be shouldered by states, localities and the private sector alone. There needs to be a commitment to driving an investment plan at the Federal level. Existing programmes are oversubscribed and international trading partners are outpacing our investments at a rapid clip – increased funding dedicated to freight infrastructure is necessary in order for the US to remain competitive in the world marketplace. “CAGTC and its membership look forward to working with 116 Congress and the Administration to develop a plan that will strengthen freight infrastructure and deliver economic returns for years to come.” CAGTC, a coalition of more than 60 public and private organizations dedicated to increasing federal investment in America’s intermodal freight infrastructure, has long advocated for a freight-focused multimodal competitive grant programme that uses objective, performance-based merit criteria to select high-priority goods movement projects, with CAGTC calling on the Administration and Congress to include in any infrastructure proposal the following elements: A national strategy that guides long-term planning: A national “vision” and investment strategy that prioritizes and guides investment in the nation’s freight infrastructure system with active coordination among states, regions, and localities is needed. Dedicated, sustainable, and flexible funding: A long-term, sustained investment program dedicated to multimodal freight infrastructure is necessary to ensure that public agencies can invest in their most critical goods movement needs – regardless of mode. Adequate Federal funding should incentivize and reward state and local investment and leverage the widest array of public and private financing. Merit-based criteria for funding allocation: Projects should be selected through the use of merit-based criteria that identify and prioritize projects with a demonstrable contribution to national freight efficiency. Modally blind funds should be available to support multi-jurisdictional and multi-state projects, selected on the basis of objective measures designed to maximize and enhance system performance. Partnership with the private sector: Federal funding should leverage private participation and provide transportation planners with the largest toolbox of financing options possible to move freight projects forward quickly and efficiently. Private sector funding will not replace or diminish the need for Federal resources, but in many instances can be used to augment system expansion.
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