This morning, the National Freight Advisory Committee (NFAC) kicked off its first meeting, and everyone at DOT is excited to see this important effort move forward. After all, our ability to move freight plays an important role in our ability to grow the American economy. A healthy economy requires a transportation network that is always improving the way it circulates freight.
About 48 million tons of freight are transported across America each day, and every little improvement to our freight system can make a tremendous economic difference. That adds up to a daily value of $46 billion worth of new refrigerators, cars, food, raw materials, and machinery bound for factories, markets, and consumers.
And, as Deputy Secretary John Porcari said today, "By 2050, America will be home to more than 100 million additional people –requiring us to move more than 8 billion extra tons of goods per year. That means our freight system – which is already the strongest in the world – will need to become even stronger."
At DOT, we've taken the lead on strengthening our nation's freight movement because we know that competing in a global economy requires American businesses to move goods from ship to train to truck as safely and efficiently as possible.
Also today, we took a concrete step forward on freight movement by increasing to 90 percent the federally-funded share of a critical freight project in Indiana. This means that the Indiana Department of Transportation can now use up to $207 million in federal funds to complete a $230 million freight project that will help reduce congestion and improve safety along the critical U.S. 31 corridor.
The U.S. 31 Hamilton County Improvement Project is the first to take advantage of a new provision in the surface transportation law. This MAP-21 provision permits DOT to raise the allowable federal match on eligible freight projects, making it easier to move important freight projects forward.
There’s no doubt that the U.S. Department of Transportation has an ambitious freight agenda, and we are excited about taking up the challenge. Over the next two years, we’ll be looking to the National Freight Advisory Committee to provide specific recommendations that we can consider as we look for ways to improve freight movement.