Freight panel to lawmakers: Increase spending on highways, ports and rail

A panel that was created by lawmakers to issue suggestions about improving the U.S. freight transportation system is recommending that lawmakers approve more funding for roads and highways.

The House Special Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation issued its findings on Tuesday after holding six hearings with shipping industry stakeholders in places like California, Tennessee, New York and Norfolk, Va.

The panel, which was created earlier this year by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said it was critical for lawmakers to address a $20 billion shortfall in surface transportation that will be facing lawmakers again next year.

"The panel found that the current state of highway infrastructure does not adequately serve the needs of those moving goods across the nation," the report says. "Not every community is located adjacent to a railroad, airport, waterway, or port, but a consumer good is almost invariably transported along the nation’s four million miles of highways and roads for at least part of its journey."

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In addition to recommending that Congress approve new road and highway spending, the freight panel also suggested Tuesday that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx should be directed to create a national freight multimodal policy with the Secretary of the Army and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.

The report called for Congress to "ensure robust public investment in all modes of transportation on which freight movement relies," not just highways.

The panel recommended that Congress could "incentivize additional private investment in freight transportation facilities, to maintain and improve the condition and performance of the freight transportation network." 

The full freight transportation report can be read here.