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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

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 […]

State DOTs Brazenly Request a Blank Check to Build More Highways

|
“This is a money and power grab.” “It’s very disappointing and very AASHTO.” That’s how some transportation reformers are describing the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ new recommendations for the next surface transportation bill. The current bill, MAP-21, expires in less than a year. AASHTO’s proposal is “so mired in protective technical-speak that […]

Transit-Oriented America, Part 1: Eight Thousand Miles

|
My wife and I were married last month in Brooklyn. For our honeymoon, we wanted to see as many great American cities as we could. In 19 days of travel, we visited Chicago, Seattle, Portland (Ore.), San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Orleans (and also stopped briefly in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia). How could two people as obsessed as […]

Barbara Boxer’s Transportation Bill: Same As It Ever Was

|
The future of national transportation policy is pretty much like the present of national transportation policy, if the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has its way: underfunded and highway-centric. The bill released by Senator Barbara Boxer’s EPW Committee yesterday [PDF] rejects pretty much everything the Obama administration put forth in its bill, including permanent […]