Heralding a highly-anticipated announcement yesterday (Oct. 18), the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)—the recognized and coordinated voice of seaports in the Americas—is applauding U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx for releasing the Draft National Freight Strategic Plan.
Among its specific strategies, the draft plan emphasizes the importance of a dedicated freight program that would improve the movement of freight and meet economic demands. It also includes a draft Multimodal Freight Network map to inform planners, private sector stakeholders and the public about where major freight flows occur and where special attention to freight issues may be most warranted. Furthermore, the draft plan would have the U.S. DOT continue to support local, state and interagency collaboration, including close cooperation with port authorities, private sector stakeholders and agencies in Canada and Mexico; sharing best practices for freight planning; supporting advisory committees and public forums with stakeholders; and encouraging effective use of funding available at the national level.
"We’re extremely encouraged that Secretary Foxx is moving forward with the National Freight Strategic Plan,” said AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “Mapping the future of our freight network and providing resources to build it is a top priority for AAPA and its member ports.”
Mr. Nagle went on to say that the Department of Transportation plan “is a timely document to highlight the importance freight investment plays in our communities and in the national economy as Congress moves forward with a multi-year transportation reauthorization bill.”
Now open for public comment, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick joined Sec. Foxx in announcing the plan at an event in Seattle. While introducing Sec. Foxx, Mr. Fick said: “The health of our infrastructure is what drives our economy, jobs and our ability to export – locally, regionally and nationally. Last-mile connections to our facilities like an at-grade railroad crossing in Puget Sound are part of a national system that enables American exporters in the U.S. heartland to reach markets in Asia. This strategic plan will help us make targeted investments to improve freight performance.”
At the announcement event, Sec. Foxx called for a greater focus on the future of U.S. freight movement. AAPA recently launched a campaign to raise awareness and appreciation of goods movement in the United States, called “Freight: Keep It Moving” (Twitter: #freightkeepitmoving). As part of that campaign, AAPA convened a freight advocacy day “fly-in” in Washington on Oct. 8 for U.S. port executives to urge federal policymakers to include freight priorities and funding as part of a long-term transportation reauthorization bill. Earlier this year, AAPA outlined port industry needs in its 2015: The State of Freight report.
The most recent federal transportation bill – MAP-21, passed in 2012 – directed the U.S. DOT to develop a National Freight Strategic Plan laying out a course of action to meet National Freight Policy goals designed to improve the movement of freight in the U.S. The draft plan includes next steps in improving the condition and performance of the national freight network and increasing America’s global economic competitiveness as well as aims to reduce the impact of freight movement to communities.