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US DOT seeks public input on National Freight Strategic Plan

AN assessment of the ability of multimodal transportation networks within the United States to handle future freight demand is taking public comment until by February 10

08 January 2020 - 19:00

AN assessment of the ability of multimodal transportation networks within the United States to handle future freight demand is taking public comment until by February 10.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued on December 27 a 'request for information' for a National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP), originally called for by the Obama administration in 2012.



The original NFSP never materialised, however, it was subsequently required under the following highway spending reauthorisation known as the FAST Act in 2015. A comment period for a draft of the plan, opened by DOT in early 2016, was supposed to result in an official plan by the end of that year, but a final NFSP has yet to appear, reported FreightWaves.



With the FAST Act due to expire by the end of September 2020, the Trump administration is attempting to put in place an NFSP that includes updated information from state and local governments, private owners and operators, trade groups and shippers.



To highlight the problem, the agency pointed out that the US moves 18 billion tonnes of freight every year across all transportation modes. The agency forecasts that amount will rise by 44 per cent by 2045 (compared to 2015), which will increasingly strain infrastructure, particularly highways.



'The trucking industry experienced almost 1.2 billion hours of delay in 2016 because of traffic congestion on the National Highway System, at a cost of US$34 billion in truck driver wages, not including wasted fuel and increased inventory carrying costs for affected shippers and beneficial cargo owners,' the agency stated.



It noted that prior to 2005 crude oil typically moved by pipeline. Since then, however, rail shipments of crude have increased significantly. In addition, more liquefied natural gas movements 'will require more interplay between pipelines, rail and tanker/barge movements,' DOT stated.



The agency expects air cargo transportation to be the fastest growing freight mode with annual tonnage growth of 4.3 per cent.



'More than ever, transportation planning and infrastructure investment, particularly for freight, must be considered within the broader systems context that accounts for all modes and both public- and private-sector actors to retain the United States' global competitive advantage.'



In addition to commenting on 11 components defined under the FAST Act, DOT is seeking replies to ten industry related questions, including: What are the three most important challenges facing the US freight transportation system? What should be long- and short-term national freight system goals? How can States, local agencies, and private stakeholders most effectively advance these national goals? How should DOT measure freight transportation system performance?


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