ATA Says New Freight Bill Would Short-Shrift Highways

July 26, 2010

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The American Trucking Associations has announced its opposition to the FREIGHT Act of 2010, the new Senate legislation that would set a national freight transportation policy.
The ATA points out that under the bill, highways would not be eligible for funding beyond limited connectors to freight terminals, said spokesman Brandon Borgna.

"What we need is a comprehensive approach to improving freight transportation for all modes that will move our economy forward," Borgna said. "This bill does not meet that need."

The bill was introduced last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, who chairs the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. He was joined by co-sponsors Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington.

The FREIGHT Act of 2010 would for the first time give the country an official freight policy - "to improve the efficiency, operation, and security of the national transportation system to move freight" - and create within the Department of Transportation an Office of Freight Planning and Development, to be run by an assistant DOT secretary.

It would provide a conceptual framework for freight investment and planning, and set goals such as reducing delays at international points of entry, making transit times along freight corridors more reliable, improving safety and reducing air pollution. It also would give DOT two years to develop a National Freight Transportation Strategic Plan that would guide planning and investment.

The ATA said it appreciates the fact that the Senators are placing importance on freight transportation. But the legislation does not remedy the highway funding crisis that the overdue highway reauthorization bill should address.

"We need to enact a responsible, comprehensive reauthorization bill," Borgna said. "ATA is committed to working with Congress to improve our freight system within a process that does not favor one mode over another."

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