New Federal Transportation Bill Will Help Freight Community Continue to Move Goods Efficiently

This week, the US Department of Transportation issued “interim guidance” on the development of state freight plans and state freight advisory committees that are being encouraged pursuant to transportation legislation

Online PR News – 28-November-2012 – Seattle Port – This week, the US Department of Transportation issued “interim guidance” on the development of state freight plans and state freight advisory committees that are being encouraged pursuant to transportation legislation – Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21 – passed by Congress this summer to address the many issues around our aging roads infrastructure.

According to Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton, while MAP-21 expires in only two years and doesn’t address all of the issues the freight community was hoping it would, the bill is a good start that the freight community can build upon in the years ahead (for a good outline of the significant freight-related portions of MAP-21, see this fact sheet by FHWA titled Significant Freight Provisions.

As Commissioner John Creighton sees it, "most people don’t realize how important the movement of freight is to living a modern lifestyle, maintaining a modern quality of life. Those tennis shoes you bought from the local mall were likely made in China, your flat screen TV made in South Korea, your power tools made in Germany, the wine you’re drinking might be from France or South Africa or Chile, the high fashion you’re wearing from France or Italy, the car you’re driving from Japan."

Modern lifestyle requires sophisticated logistics and an efficient freight system to get these various goods to your local clothing store, big box retailer or auto dealer. We need a comprehensive, efficient and maintained national roads system to ensure that freight trucks carrying those goods can get from our ports to distribution warehouses, from distribution warehouses to the point of sale. Yet the last time there was a comprehensive investment in our national roads system was during the Eisenhower administration, over 50 years ago.

Port Commissioner John Creighton, who oversees the regional agency that owns or operates much of the Seattle waterfront and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, has been a strong advocate on freight issues since becoming a commissioner in 2006. That same year, he was appointed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire also to serve on the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, or FMSIB. FMSIB is a state-level board that helps identify freight bottlenecks across Washington State and builds coalitions of funding partners to finance critical freight transportation projects.

Both as a port commissioner and as a FMSIB board member, Commissioner Creighton has worked with state legislators and members of Washington’s federal delegation to make sure that our elected leaders understand the importance of efficient freight corridors to a thriving economy.

While a focus on freight seems esoteric to most people, the benefits are not. According to Commissioner Creighton, “a more efficient freight network would reduce traffic congestion, environmental footprint and shipping costs, leading to lower prices for consumers. And a modernized freight system would help grow the economy, not just of Washington State, but the entire nation.”

MAP-21 establishes a national freight policy and calls for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan. It also requires the US Department of Transportation to establish a federal Freight Policy Council, which will implement the key freight provisions of the legislation. The idea of the Freight Policy Council is largely based on FMSIB, and Commissioner Creighton and other board members were instrumental in helping shape the transportation bill.

MAP-21 lacks dedicated funding for freight projects, but Commissioner Creighton expressed the hope that the bill’s reauthorization in 2014 will include specific funding for freight projects of national importance.

“The Seattle Port Commission has adopted a 25 year strategic plan, which includes goals to almost double cargo through our seaport and to triple cargo through Sea-Tac Airport. With increasing competition to our north and south, we need to be vigilant that freight corridors in our region continue to allow businesses to move goods efficiently and reliably,” Commissioner Creighton said. “We are grateful to Senator Maria Cantwell and the other members of our state’s delegation who supported MAP-21. Smart freight planning is especially important to Washington State, where 40% of all jobs are related to trade.”

About Commissioner John Creighton

John Creighton was elected to the Seattle Port Commission in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. He served as Port Commission President from 2007-2008, and for the last two years as co-chair of the Commission’s Century Agenda committee. The Century Agenda committee has led the development of the Port’s 25-year plan to help grow 100,000 new port-related jobs for the Puget Sound region.

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