USDOT lays out a vision on how to improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system.
Every day, America’s transportation network moves over 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $52 billion via highways, railways, ports and inland waterways, pipelines, and airports. The demand that has resulted from the increased use of e-commerce and global supply chains is presenting a series of challenges to our already taxed transportation system.
Challenges affecting our freight system include increased safety risks, increased congestion, and declining infrastructure conditions. According to the USDOT, these challenges could have a negative impact on America’s ability to stay competitive across major industries like agriculture, manufacturing, energy production and E-commerce along with a lack of preparation for incorporating innovative technologies.
Earlier in the month, the United States Department of Transportation addressed these problems when it released its National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP). The plan lays out the USDOT’s vision for long-term investments in infrastructure, the workforce, and other essential parts of the freight system. “The safe and efficient movement of goods through our freight system is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT),” it states in the NFSP Executive Summary. “This National Freight Strategic Plan defines the U.S. DOT’s vision and goals for the national multimodal freight system, assesses the conditions and performance of the freight system and barriers to freight system performance, and defines strategies to achieve its vision and goals.”
The strategic goals stated in the plan are to:
*Improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system.
*Modernize freight infrastructure and operations to grow the economy, increase competitiveness, and improve quality of life.
*Prepare for the future by supporting the development of data, technologies, and workforce capabilities that improve freight system performance.
The USDOT says that the plan details how we can modernize freight infrastructure and operations, however, critics of the plan say that it’s lacking details on how these initiatives will be funded and the data necessary to do so. “Economists recognize that all plans need to be re-evaluated because of changed circumstances,” says Railroad economist and planner and Railway Age Contributing Editor Jim Blaze. “That is not evident in this 2020 document.” Click here to read more of Jim’s NFSP analysis.
Read the USDOT National Freight Strategic Plan (Full Report) and let us know your thoughts on the plan and the challenges ahead. To learn more about the NFSP, visit transportation.gov/freight/NFS. USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao’s remarks about the plan can be viewed HERE.