Coalition Calling for National Freight Plan

Sep 16, 2009
A coalition of 17 diverse groups including shippers, transportation providers and government agencies is calling for an addition to the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 now up for debate in Congress.  The proposed change is to create a cohesive national freight strategy to be implemented over the next six years.

At a news conference this week, the Freight Stakeholders’ Coalition stressed that a high priority must be given to significant investments in the nation’s freight transportation system. The representatives in attendance represented trucking companies, railroads, ports, shippers, and state department of transportation agencies.

The group claims that without significant improvements to freight infrastructure, all modes of shipping freight will deteriorate and the U.S. will pay the price in both domestic prosperity and international competitiveness.

“There is an awful lot at stake here and we’ve got to continue our efforts to elevate freight [needs] to a higher level in the debate over the reauthorization bill,” said Joni Casey, president &d CEO of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). “That’s why it’s so important for Congress to act now on the [reauthorization] bill and not revert to stop-gap funding.”

“Freight is an issue that should be at the top of the nation’s priority list – but it is not,” stressed Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation infrastructure for U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “No matter the differences among industries as to what needs the most funding, we all recognize 18 months is too long to wait to pass a reauthorization bill. What do we need more time for? There’s enough information out there about what we need to do to fill this room 10 times over.”

An 18-month extension of federal highway programs by the Obama administration, says Kavinoky, shows that freight issues are a high priority for the President.

“The only thing we need time for is to make transportation and freight policy a priority,” she said. “…We’ve spent the last four years hammering out transportation and freight issues for this highway bill – now it is time for us to multi-task.”

“States would love to get a bill done; we’re in favor of substantive transportation change, but want to do it thoughtfully while creating a stable source of funding for it,” said Allen D. Biehler, P.E.

Photo courtesy of richardsinyem under the Creative Commons License.