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Coalition: DOT’s ‘key priority’ should be freight

   The Freight Stakeholders Coalition, made up of 18 organizations representing both U.S. shippers and carriers, last week called for a national freight program and policy in the Surface Transportation Authorization bill.
   In a letter to House and Senate Conferees on Surface Transportation Authorization, the group laid out a 10-point platform on freight mobility that calls for dedicated funds for freight, and “a state-administered freight transportation program as a new core element of the federal highway program apportioned to states.”
   The coalition said there should be “multi-state freight corridor planning organizations,” so that planning and investment can be made “where costs are concentrated in a single state but benefits are distributed among multiple states.”
   It added that a multi-modal freight office should be established within the transportation secretary’s office and freight mobility “should be a key priority.”
   “If a new freight trust fund is created, it should be firewalled, with the funds fully spent on projects that facilitate freight transportation and not used for any other purpose,” the coalition said. “Priority should be given to nationally and regionally significant infrastructure, with funds distributed through a competitive grant process using objective, merit-based criteria. Appropriate projects that are freight-related should still be eligible to compete for other federal funding sources.”
   The letter and program of the coalition, whose members include shipper groups such as the National Industrial Transportation League, National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce and carrier groups like the World Shipping Council, American Trucking Associations, and Association of American Railroads, can be viewed here. – Chris Dupin

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