California leads the way in addressing transport infrastructure

The bill would establish the Freight Transportation Infrastructure Trust Fund, funded through a national 1 percent waybill fee on the transportation cost of goods.

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California, which is arguably the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to innovation, is leading the charge in building "sustainable" new transport networks. 

It is also important to note that in this era of unprecedented political division, the effort is supported by members of both political parties. 

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation last week which will create a dedicated revenue source to strengthen America’s economic competitiveness by investing in the rebuilding of our crumbling national freight infrastructure. 
“Goods movement is the backbone of our economy. In order to maintain the standing of the United States as a global economic leader, we must invest in expanding the capacity, reliability, and efficiency of our nation’s goods movement system and freight infrastructure,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “And yet, that infrastructure is crumbling around us. We must take action to rebuild it and strengthen it , all in a way that also addresses the negative impacts of goods movement on our communities.”

In 2015, Congress passed the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which for the first time outlined a national freight policy. This bill incorporated ideas from Congressman Lowenthal’s earlier proposals on freight infrastructure financing to set up both formula and competitive programs to invest in these systems.

The Congressman’s bill, H.R. 3001, The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act, builds on the success of the FAST Act and ensures continued investment in the goods movement network. The bill would raise roughly $8 billion a year dedicated to freight-related infrastructure projects throughout the nation, with a focus on multimodal projects and projects that rebuild aging infrastructure while relieving bottlenecks in the freight transportation system.

The bill would establish the Freight Transportation Infrastructure Trust Fund, funded through a national 1 percent waybill fee on the transportation cost of goods.

To invest the funds, the bill creates two freight specific grant programs: a formula grant in which each state would receive funds each year based on the amount of existing infrastructure within the state, and a competitive grant program what would be open to all local, regional, and state governments. 

In order to address the growing national backlog of infrastructure needs to support our economy, sustained investment in our freight infrastructure is necessary. 

The latest report card on America’s infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) rated America’s rail system with a B, our bridges and ports with a C+, and our roads with a D. The overall grade for our entire infrastructure system was a D+. 

“Our nation is at a crossroads,” the ASCE said in the report. “Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future. While we have made some progress, reversing the trajectory after decades of underinvestment in our infrastructure requires transformative action from Congress, states, infrastructure owners, and the American people.”

H.R. 3001 was introduced on June 22 with original cosponsors Congress Members Nanette Barragan (CA-44), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Judy Chu (CA-27), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Mark Meadows (NC-11), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), and Mark Takano (CA-41).

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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