“Our freight system is the lifeblood of the American economy, moving goods quickly and efficiently to benefit both businesses and consumers across the country,” LaHood said Thursday. “With the launch of the Freight Policy Council, we have an opportunity to make not only our freight system, but all modes of transportation, stronger and better connected.”

A transportation bill signed by President Obama last month established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan. DOT’s Freight Policy Council will implement the key freight provisions of the legislation.

Cantwell said an updated freight system would help grow the economy — not just of Washington state, but the nation.

“With increasing competition abroad, Washington businesses require a 21st century approach to moving goods,” Cantwell said. “This new Freight Policy Council provides the roadmap our nation needs to stay competitive and grow our trade economy. Smart freight planning is especially important to Washington state, where more than one million jobs are in freight-dependent industries.”

Cantwell said a more efficient freight network would reduce traffic congestion, environmental footprint and shipping costs, leading to lower prices for consumers.