freight mobility investment factsheet

Download Freight Mobility Investment Factsheet

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  • BackgroundIn an increasingly interconnected economy, the ability to move goods reliably and quickly is essential for both consumers and businesses. Unfortunately, freight bottlenecks and other forms of congestion cost U.S. businesses about $200 billion a year due to the increased price to ship goods as well as transportation costs for raw materials and other inputs. Lack of secure, long-term funding for key freight mobility projects and absence of a national freight policy hinder economic growth and threaten to risk the United States global competitive edge.

    In July 2012, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, into law. This Act provides little freight mobility funding and only lasts for two years. Since transportation projects take years to plan and execute, a long-term policy with stable funding is critical to maintain and improve our nations freight mobility infrastructure. MAP-21 will expire on October 1, 2014, if Congress does not act to renew it.

    increase federal and state investment in freight mobility

    Policy Factsheet

  • Increase Federal and State Investment in Freight Mobility

    Policy Factsheet

    Why it matters to WASHINGTON

    Washington state is a gateway to and from the global economy, and our international competitiveness depends on our ability to reliably and quickly transport goods through our ports to the rest of the state, country and world. For example, 70 percent of the inbound freight coming through the ports of Seattle and Tacoma is destined for the rest of the United States, meaning that shippers only choose our ports if they can efficiently and affordably get their goods from here to places like Chicago. Thousands of Washington jobs, from ports and logistics companies to retailers and manufacturers, depend on the efficient movement of freight. More than 533 million tons of freight were moved in Washington in 2010, and that number is expected to grow by up to 86 percent by 2040 if traffic congestion and poor infrastructure do not prevent that growth.1 Unfortunately, 50 percent of Washingtons roads will be in poor or very poor condition in ten years at current funding levels. Many of our bridges are dilapidated and cannot support the weight of trucks, forcing truckers to take expensive and time-consuming detours. Furthermore, projects that would significantly improve freight mobility are unfinished and unfunded. Washington must invest in freight mobility to maintain its international competitiveness and attract and retain jobs.

    Traffic congestion on I-5. Photo courtesy of KOMO News


    1. Establish a national freight policy and provide dedicated, long-term financing for major freight mobility projectsIt takes years of planning and construction to complete a freight project; without certainty of long-term funding, many projects can never even begin. To maximize the United States competitiveness in the global marketplace, Congress needs to establish a national freight policy and long-term funding and financing programs for projects of regional or national significance. Any solution to improve freight movmement needs to recognize the mulitmodal nature of freight - a single shipment often moves by mulitple modes of transportation, such as water, rail and truck.

    2. Prioritize freight mobility in Washington state and complete key projectsThe Washington State Legislature must understand the vital role freight mobility plays in our trade-dependent economy and designate funding for key freight mobility projects, such as last mile connectors that would significantly improve the movement of goods to and from our ports. It is imperative that Washington complete projects such as the SR 167, SR 509, the I-5 Columbia River Crossing and the US 395 North Spokane Corridor in order to maintain our states competitiveness. In addition, our state needs a coordinated planning process that will identify important investments and integrate freight mobility goals with state policies on issues like economic development.

    3. Establish Performance MeasuresBoth the Washington State Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Transportation must maximize the impact of funding by ensuring that funds are spent in the most efficient way. Creating a system of performance measures will help projects stay on track and consistently hit milestones.

    4. Ensure long-term, sustainable funding for the Highway Trust FundOur states highways are a vital part of the freight network, and the federal Highway Trust Fund is a critical source of funding for improvements. This year, however, the Fund was on the brink of insolvency because federal gas tax revenues continue to fall behind transportation spending needs. Congress passed a 10-month extension that keeps the Fund viable through May 2015, but a long-term, sustainable solution, particularly one that emphasizes the link between highway investment and our trade economy, is needed.

    1 Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board, 2012

    Projected Budget Shortfalls of the Highway Trust

  • the importance of rail to washingtons international competitiveness

    A significant portion of our states imported and exported goods are carried by one of Washingtons many freight rail connections. In 2007, the state rail system carried 116 million tons of freight, compared with 64 million tons in 1991, for an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent. The states rail network has extended across many parts of the state; now 32 of the states 39 counties are served by one of the states freight railroads, and there are three major rail corridors in the state. While the majority of the states rail development is driven by private investment, public investment is critical at multimodal transportation junctures, such as ports.

    Washington Council on International Fifth Avenue, Suite 1500Seattle, WA 98101


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