Sen.Cantwell in Vancouver to push Freight Act

By:  Joe Smith
Source: KGW TV

VANCOUVER - The Ports in Washington state are the model for what could be a major change in the way the U.S. Department of Transportation does business. 

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is proposing what she calls the Freight Act. It stands for Focusing Resources, Economic Investment and Guidance to Help Transportation.

Cantwell is touring some of Washington's ports this week to encourage passage of the measure.

The effort is designed to modernize and improve the efficiency of the nation's freight network, to eliminate bottlenecks in order to get freight moved faster across the country, using river, rail, roads and air for exports.

The Port of Vancouver is a good example.

Public investment is helping to spur private investment. Far West Steel's new facility is under construction. By summer, the port says it will mean 228 permanent jobs.

United Grain Corporation is spending $80 million on new grain elevators and expects exports to Asia to grow considerably in the near future.

"To move product to Asia and serve growing middle classes around the globe is a great opportunity if you have the infrastructure in place and can be competitive," said Cantwell.

The Department of Transportation expects exports to grow 86 percent by 2040. Cantwell said not making improvements to the nation's transportation system means lost jobs and some $2 billion in lost revenue.

If passed, the Freight Act would create the first national freight policy.

Cantwell is working to get the act passed by the end of March. That's when the current ground transportation policy and funding is up for a two year extension.