Cantwell Kicks Off First Meeting of National Freight Advisory Committee

Cantwell: ‘We know more freight equals more jobs’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) opened the first meeting of the National Freight Advisory Committee with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and transportation leaders from across the nation.

Today’s meeting is a milestone in developing the first national freight plan to improve the movement of goods and boost the nation’s competitiveness in the global economy. During the meeting at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the committee is beginning to develop new freight performance measures and the nationwide multimodal freight strategic plan.

Cantwell called for the formation of the National Freight Advisory Committee in a May 2012 letter to Secretary LaHood as part of a national initiative to improve freight transportation. The 47-member Committee will provide outside recommendations to the USDOT Freight Policy Council on how America’s freight network can better serve businesses, freight customers and shippers, and regions across the nation. Members are from outside of the federal government, serve two-year terms and are expected to meet at least three times per year.

“In Washington state and around the nation we know more freight equals more jobs,” said Cantwell. “The first meeting of the National Freight Advisory Committee is a milestone in our effort to improve and modernize freight nationwide. The freight plan these experts will help develop will drive private-sector economic growth and our trade economy in the 21st century.”

The new Committee is expected to work closely with the USDOT Freight Policy Council, chaired by USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari. In 2012, Cantwell worked with USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood to create the Freight Policy Council and task it with improving the condition and performance of the national freight network to strengthen the United States’ ability to compete in a global economy. Cantwell and LaHood announced the creation of the Council on August 23, 2012, at the Port of Seattle and the North Spokane Corridor in Washington state.

The efficient movement of freight and goods is vital to Washington state, which exported more per capita last year than any other state in the nation. Freight congestion and other bottlenecks already cost the nation approximately $200 billion per year. Today, every American is responsible for 40 tons of freight a year. A more efficient freight network will reduce traffic congestion, environmental impact and shipping costs, which will lead to lower prices for consumers.

Cantwell has been a leading advocate for a national multimodal freight strategy that can guide future investment by identifying critical trade corridors, bottlenecks, and strengths and weaknesses in the nation’s freight network. In her May 2012 letter to Secretary LaHood, Cantwell encouraged USDOT to consider the collaborative approach of the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board as an example of successful freight coordination, prioritization and collaboration among many modes and diverse interests. Since the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board was created in 1998, it has brought public and private interests to the table together to invest $112.7 million in partnership with other stakeholders to help complete 41 projects valued at more than $371 million.