Cantwell, Reichert, Kilmer Call on House to Pass First Bipartisan Comprehensive Freight Policy to Strengthen Economy, Enhance Competitiveness

TACOMA, WA. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08), and Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-06) came together to advocate for multimodal freight policy to support Washington’s growing economy and maximizing our country’s competitiveness. The bipartisan delegation was joined by officials from the Port of Tacoma, the Northwest Seaport Alliance, and Saltchuk Resources at the Port of Tacoma to urge the inclusion of multimodal freight provisions in any long term transportation bill considered by the House of Representatives.

Today’s bipartisan calls for updates to our transportation network reflect a growing consensus both in Washington state and in Congress that freight cannot be neglected any longer.

“Today Congressman Reichter, Congressman Kilmer and myself are calling on the House of Representatives to include multimodal freight policy in the final transportation bill.   To get our products to markets around the world, we must realize that investments in freight cannot wait,” said Senator Cantwell. “The faster freight moves, the faster Washington’s economy will grow. We need to make smart investments now so we can create more jobs and have more containers moving through our ports.”

“Efficient movement of goods is critical to the success of Washington’s economy, and that ability to move goods is dependent on structurally sound, modern infrastructure. The legislation that Congressman Kilmer and I have introduced in the House and that Senator Cantwell introduced in the Senate is critical to ensuring our outdated infrastructure is upgraded and that we can streamline the movement of goods from the port of entry to final destination, ensuring a productive transportation system that will enable us to create jobs and grow our economy,” said Representative Reichter.

“Washington State’s economy depends on transporting goods to market,” said Representative Kilmer. “In order to support job growth in our region, we need infrastructure that can efficiently get products out of warehouses and onto rail lines, highways, and waterways so they get into the hands of customers. Right now, too much of our outdated freight infrastructure results in delays and congestion. I was proud to join Senator Cantwell and Representative Reichert today to call for a national focus on smart freight policy that will help businesses and keep us competitive in a 21st century economy.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed a six year transportation bill that for the first time creates a dedicated Freight Division based significantly off Cantwell’s National Multimodal Freight Policy and Investment Act. With companion legislation also introduced in the House by Reps. Kilmer and Reichert, the bipartisan delegation of lawmakers and shipping industry leaders called on the House of Representatives to prioritize strong multimodal freight policy as they continue to craft their version of a long term transportation bill.

In Washington State, where 40% of jobs are tied to trade, an outdated transportation network brings significant economic consequences for local exporters who sell their products overseas. With 95% of the world’s customers living outside our country’s borders, businesses must rely on the ability to safely and efficiently transport their goods to market without being plagued by congestion and bottlenecks.

Currently, the rapid movement of goods is being bottlenecked by delays in the freight system, which cost American businesses, farmers, and shippers $200 billion a year. According to a recent report, multimodal freight moving through Washington State could grow 77% by 2030, yet Washington State Department of Transportation found that a 20% increase in freight congestion could result in a loss of $3.3 billion and over 27,000 jobs statewide. Unless smart investments are made in our nation’s freight infrastructure, our country as a whole could face losses of up to $1.3 trillion and stands to lose over 700,000 jobs by 2020.

America also faces growing threats from foreign countries competing for our country’s shipping market share. Freight dependent businesses provide 1.5 million jobs and $129 billion in GDP for Washington State alone, but countries are adopting policies that prioritize freight mobility and are investing in key projects such as the Port of Prince Rupert and the Panama Canal. In light of this increased global competition, Washington’s congressional delegation pointed to the urgent need to prioritize strategic investments in the nation’s multimodal network to keep America competitive in a global economy.

Specifically the bill would:

  • Create a dedicated Freight Division that establishes a National Multimodal Freight Policy;
  • Require the development of a National Freight Strategic Plan; and,
  • Create a competitive Freight Investment Grant Program for projects specifically focused on improving freight mobility.