Photo: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Photo: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House on June 22 would create a Freight Transportation Infrastructure Trust Fund, funded through a national 1% “waybill fee” on the transportation cost of goods, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA).

Lowenthal said his National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act (H.R. 3001) “builds on the success of the FAST Act [highway bill that became law in 2015] and ensures continued investment in the goods movement network.”

If enacted, the bill would raise roughly $8 billion a year dedicated to freight-related infrastructure projects throughout the nation, he explained, with a focus on “multimodal projects and projects that rebuild aging infrastructure while relieving bottlenecks” in the freight transportation system.

“Goods movement is the backbone of our economy,” said Lowenthal. “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.

“And yet,” he continued, “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.”

Lowenthal noted that the FAST Act was the first legislation to outline a national freight policy and that his H.R. 3001 incorporates ideas from his earlier proposals on freight infrastructure financing that called for setting up both formula and competitive programs to invest in these systems.

To invest the funds, the new bill would launch 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.

Lowenthal stated that “to address the growing national backlog of infrastructure needs to support our economy, sustained investment in our freight infrastructure is necessary.” Making his case for an infrastructure trust fund, he pointed out that the latest report card on America’s infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers rated America’s rail system with a B, its bridges and ports with a C+, its roads with a D and gave the entire infrastructure system an overall D+.

H.R. 3001 was introduced with original co-sponsors being Reps. Nanette Barragan (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-NY), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Mark Takano (D-CA).