Sen. Lautenberg Introduces Bill to Create 21st Century Freight Transportation System

The Freight Act of 2010 aims to make ship-to-rail transfers rail safer, more efficient.

Frank Lautenburg cosponsored a bill which would direct the Department of Transportation to enhance travel-time reliability, cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and reduce delays in shipping goods that enter the country via container ships and then transferred to rail cars.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg announced legislation Monday to create a national freight rail policy designed to reduce delays, improve efficiency, enhance safety and security, and cut carbon emissions in the $40 billion industry.

The bill, cosponsored by Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and fellow Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington state, would direct the Department of Transportation to enhance travel-time reliability, cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and reduce delays in shipping goods that enter the country via container ships and then transferred to rail cars.

Ship-to-rail transfer facilities link container terminals in Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island to CSX and Norfolk Southern freight lines through New Jersey. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reports that of the $146 billion in cargo handled by the ports last year, 11.6 percent, or $16.9 billion worth, involved ship-to-rail transfers.

The bill would also set up a permanent grant program for freight infrastructure projects, though the size of the fund has not been set.

The major goals established by the FREIGHT Act are:

  • Reduce delays of goods and commodities entering into and out of intermodal connectors that serve international points of entry on an annual basis.
     
  • Increase travel time reliability on major freight corridors that connect major population centers with freight generators and international gateways on an annual basis.
     
  • Reduce by 10 percent the number of freight transportation-related fatalities by 2015.
     
  • Reduce national freight transportation-related carbon dioxide levels by 40 percent by 2030.
     
  • Reduce freight transportation-related air, water, and noise pollution and impacts on ecosystems and communities on an annual basis.

To view the official press release from Senator Lautenberg’s office, click here.

Lautenberg is on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which will review the freight policy bill. He also chairs the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which last week released the Department of Homeland Security’s $43 billion budget for Fiscal 2011, which sets aside $350 million for rail, bus and transit security, including $38.9 million for New Jersey.