Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.

Legislation has been offered up  in the U.S. House that backers say will support improvements to infrastructure and transportation in the national freight mobility network through a new tax on freight shipments.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. has reintroduced H.R. 3825, the Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2014

It would establish the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Improvement Program through the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide competitive grants to states and designated entities to improve the efficiency and capacity of freight networks, according to the congressman’s office.

These entities would work in collaboration with their communities to identify projects of national or regional significance and apply for the grants. The Secretary of Transportation would award funds based on the project’s ability to improve freight infrastructure, cost effectiveness, and its economic impact. 

The legislation would fund these competitive grants through a user fee on the shipment of freight cargo within the United States. The fee would be 1% of the total cost of transport and all the fees collected would go directly to the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund, a dedicated source of funding for freight mobility improvement projects.

“Our nation’s freight transportation system plays a significant role in our ability to grow the economy and compete globally,” said Smith.  “With our nation’s freight expected to double by 2040, it is critical to start making investments in freight and transportation infrastructure now to keep America competitive internationally for years to come.”

The bill has three cosponsors and has now been sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further consideration.

It has also received the blessing from the Port of Tacoma and the lobby group the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors

It comes as the current federal surface transportation funding authorization expires at the end of September and Congress is looking to pay for a new multi-year plan that some want to see have more money for road and bridge projects.