Today, Congressman Adam Smith reintroduced H.R. 3825, the Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2014 (FIRA), a bill that will support improvements to infrastructure and transportation in the national freight mobility network.
“Our nation’s freight transportation system plays a significant role in our ability to grow the economy and compete globally,” said Congressman Smith. “With our nation’s freight expected to double by 2040, it is critical to start making investments in freight and transportation infrastructure now to keep America competitive internationally for years to come.”
FIRA would establish the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Improvement Program through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that would provide competitive grants to states and designated entities to improve the efficiency and capacity of freight networks. These entities would work in collaboration with their communities to identify projects of national or regional significance and apply for the grants. The Secretary of Transportation would award funds based on the project’s ability to improve freight infrastructure, cost effectiveness, and its economic impact.
“Our multimodal freight transportation system is a national asset that we have failed to appreciate and support. Nowhere is this need more pressing than in the freight system that provides for our nation’s commerce,” said Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Meyer. “Without strategic corridor investments to expand capacity and increase efficiency, U.S. productivity and global competitiveness will suffer, costs will increase and investment will lag. We applaud Congressman Smith’s efforts to make this vision of strategic freight mobility a reality.”
The legislation would fund these competitive grants through a user fee on the shipment of freight cargo within the United States. The fee would be 1 percent of the total cost of transport and all the fees collected would go directly to the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund, a dedicated source of funding for freight mobility improvement projects.
“More and more our government and business leaders are agreeing that freight infrastructure is key to economic growth and merits public support,” said Leslie Blakey, Executive Director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors. “Currently absent from the menu of transportation investment mechanisms is a freight-specific grant program and a dedicated funding source. Congressman Smith’s proposal is truly creative and we applaud his vision.”
The bill has been cosponsored by Representative Albio Sires, Steve Cohen, and Janice Hahn and has now been sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further consideration.