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Freight Policy Meeting

  • Secretary Ray LaHood

    Freight Policy Meeting
    Washington, DC

    Thursday September 13, 2012

     

    Good morning everyone. Welcome and thank you for attending the kickoff of our new freight initiative.
  • Today is about listening and hearing what you have to say. This meeting is our first step in engaging with the people who count on freight ---the states, the freight and logistics industry, businesses, consumers and other stakeholders.
  • I want to take a moment to thank Senator Cantwell for being here. She is a leader on freight issues, and we all appreciate her work to develop a national freight plan.
  • America has one of the best freight systems in the world. And that’s important, because freight movement is the lifeblood of the American economy.
  • But to stay competitive in today’s global economy, the U.S. must tackle three key challenges.
    • First, we must develop a national strategic vision on freight.
    • Second, the public and private sectors must work together to invest in our nation’s freight network.
    • Third, we must plan and deliver freight infrastructure projects faster and more efficiently than ever.
  • Under President Obama’s leadership, we are doing just that.
  • In August, I visited the Port of Seattle with Senator Cantwell. There, I announced the creation of DOT’s internal Freight Policy Council.
  • As most of you know, our new council will help us develop a national plan for improving freight movement and meeting the President’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
  • Our new council is multimodal and high-level—chaired by Deputy Secretary John Porcari. In a moment, he’s going to talk more specifically about the council’s members and goals.
  • This summer, President Obama signed into law a transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21. This law does a number of good things for freight, and our new council will help us implement those provisions.
  • For one, it calls us on us to work with the States to plan our freight investments more systematically—so that we can achieve our national goals.
  • And through the dollars provided in MAP-21, we will continue to meet the second challenge – continuing to invest in freight through our grant and loan programs.
  • Through our successful TIGER grant program alone, DOT has invested $953 million for 50 projects that improve freight nationwide. More than a third of that funding— $354 million—went to 25 port projects from coast to coast.
  • And as a result of MAP-21, DOT has $1.75 billion in TIFIA funding for the next two years.  Those are funds that can be put to work establishing and improving our nation’s intermodal freight network.
  • Finally, to meet the third challenge, President Obama issued an Executive Order requiring DOT and other Federal agencies to cut red tape and speed up the time it takes to review and permit important infrastructure projects.
  • This will save time and money while also delivering better outcomes.
  • All of our efforts will support the interconnected nature of freight.
  • We’ll aim to move goods from ship to train to truck—and finally to consumers—as quickly and efficiently as we can.
  • President Obama and DOT are committed to making the U.S. freight system the best in the world.  Today’s meeting is an important step—and we look forward to hearing from you.
  • Now, I’d like to hand it over to Senator Cantwell. Please join me in welcoming her.
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012