UDPATE: U.S. DOT’s First-Ever Freight Plan May Include 3,000 New Highway Miles

UPDATE 6/5/13: Four months after publishing this article we suddenly realized we may have misinterpreted LaHood’s quote. We checked with U.S. DOT and they confirmed we were right about being wrong. When he said that the department would “chart a primary network of up to 27,000 miles of existing interstates and other roads” and “consider adding as many as 3,000 more miles in the future,” what he meant was that the law had given the department the mandate to create a 27,000-mile freight network with the option of adding another 3,000 miles — of existing highways — to the network later.  

It’s hard to believe, but, despite the fact that freight makes up 25 percent of all transportation emissions, the nation has never had a strategic plan for how to move goods.

Will the trucking industry dominate the nation's first ever national freight planning process? Image: ##http://fastlane.dot.gov/2013/02/dot-set-to-improve-how-us-freight-travels-the-arteries-of-the-american-economy.html#more## U.S. DOT##

Under the MAP-21 transportation bill, however, those days are history. Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on his blog yesterday that U.S. DOT will establish a national freight policy and a National Freight Advisory Committee.

As part of the plan, unfortunately, LaHood floated the idea of adding thousands of miles of highways to the interstate system.

He detailed the woes of truck drivers who struggle with congestion, and instead of recommending a switch to a more multi-modal system, said U.S. DOT would look to road-building as the answer.

“So we’ll chart a primary network of up to 27,000 miles of existing interstates and other roads,” LaHood wrote. “And we’ll consider adding as many as 3,000 more miles in the future if that’s what it takes to help our truckers deliver the goods.”

LaHood was careful to explain that planning would also include freight that moves over rail and waterways.

The fact that 3,000 new miles of interstate are now on the table makes it more important than ever It is important that the new National Freight Advisory Committee represent multi-modal interests, not just trucking. U.S. DOT is seeking nominations for the committee now.

LaHood hinted that that was the intention: “By engaging stakeholders representing diverse interests — from safety and the environment to labor and industry — the Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on how DOT can improve its freight transportation policies and programs,” he wrote.

  • LaHood didn’t “float” the idea.  It’s in the law

  • makes it more important than ever that the new National Freight Advisory Committee represent multi-modal interests, not just trucking.
    Well, trucking pays for those highways…the other modes don’t

  • Sorry mate, according to the Tax Foundation, only 50.7% of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes, tolls and other fees levied on drivers.  The other 49.3% of funding for the country’s roads come from general tax dollars, just like education, police and fire service.

    http://taxfoundation.org/article/gas…-road-spending

  • CV Gal

    The number of shipping containers coming into the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are projected to triple by 2030.  Los Angeles CANNOT absorb the added trucks to move them no matter how many highways are built.  As a country, we must continue to push our elected officials and transportation leaders toward intermodal systems that complement the trucking industry yet move the logistics industry toward high efficiency with less environmental impact.  This is already being done successfully in a number of states.  Mr LaHood is clearly on the wrong side of this issue and I am not sorry to see him go.  However, I fear his replacement may be even worse.

  • Your link is broken, and MAP-21 specifically deals with 27,000 miles of the NHS, which is federal-aid (gas tax)

    Sorry mate

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

TIGER V a Shot in the Arm for Livable Streets in Cities and Small Towns

|
Out of 585 applications, U.S. DOT has chosen 52 transportation projects in 37 states to receive TIGER awards totaling $474 million. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program was originally an element of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package. Although it hasn’t been reauthorized and many Republicans claim to hate it, funding somehow keeps being appropriated for […]

Trucks and Cities Are Like Oil and Water. Is There a Solution?

|
About 350 pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are killed each year by large trucks in this country. Big freight trucks are incompatible with cities in many ways, bringing danger, pollution, noise, and traffic congestion. They park in bike lanes and have shockingly big blind spots, putting everyone around them at risk. And yet, most cities haven’t […]

Reps. Duncan and Nadler Will Lead New T&I Panel on Freight

|
MAP-21 pushed U.S. DOT to get serious about freight: In recent months, the agency has announced the creation of a national freight policy, a National Freight Advisory Committee, and a Freight Policy Council, as mandated by the bill. Now the House Transportation Committee is getting in on the action. The committee announced today that Rep. John Duncan […]

Will DOT’s New Freight Council Focus on More Than Trucks?

|
On Thursday, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced the creation of a new Freight Policy Council, which is charged with coming up with a freight strategic plan. This is a first step toward a sorely lacking national plan around freight. The movement of goods accounts for about a quarter of all transportation-related emissions. Every American is […]

Don’t Believe the Hype About a Boom in Freight Traffic

|
U.S. DOT estimates that total freight volume in the country will grow 45 percent by 2040. If that sounds like a reasonable guess that will help plan for the future, think again. Predictions about freight growth usually turn into justifications to widen highways. David Levinson, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, says at his blog the […]

Will the Nation’s First Strategic Freight Plan be Multi-Modal?

|
Congress is joining U.S. DOT in committing more resources to a national freight plan, a more strategic way of moving goods than the current haphazard and fragmented current approach. As mandated by MAP-21, U.S. DOT is working on a strategic plan for a nationwide freight network, and last month, Congress kicked off its contribution, holding […]