Fact Sheet

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GROW AMERICA: Expanding our ability to move freight

Investing in our Freight System to Grow the American Economy

The GROW AMERICA Act will make critical investments to help improve the safe and efficient movement of freight across all modes of transportation - highway, rail, port, and pipeline.  The nation’s 117 million households and 7.4 million businesses are part of an enormous economy that demands the efficient movement of freight for their livelihoods. Without new investment, supply chains degrade, hindering job growth and harming retailers, manufacturers, and the millions of American consumers who need their goods to be transported efficiently and affordably.

  • The U.S. transportation system moves more than 52 million tons of goods worth nearly $46 billion each day, or almost 40 tons of freight per person per year. Freight tonnage is expected to increase by 62 percent by 2040, requiring additional capacity to our highways, railroads, ports, and pipelines and improvements to multi-modal connections that move freight efficiently and keep our economy growing.
  • By 2040, it is estimated that the nation’s system will be required to haul an additional 12 billion tons of freight around the country.
  • Freight transportation is an important part of our economy, with over 44 million jobs directly dependent on freight transportation.

Map of tonnage on highways, railroads, and inland waterways

 
The GROW AMERICA Act provides $10 billion over four years for targeted investments in the nation’s transportation system that will improve the movement of freight.  This $10 billion will be limited to transportation projects that clearly contribute to improving freight transportation.

  • Despite its importance to the economy, freight investments are disadvantaged in the current transportation planning process.  These projects face competition from non-freight projects for public funds and community support, a lack of coordination among various government entities and private sector stakeholders, and limited availability of public funds to address the key freight chokepoints where those actors individually have less of an incentive to invest.

The GROW AMERICA Act will give shippers, transportation providers, and freight workers a real seat at the table for making investment decisions.  The $10 billion grant program will be awarded for projects identified by states, communities, and ports working in collaboration with shippers, truckers, maritime providers, railroads, and other transportation stakeholders to identify infrastructure projects that serve a public and immediate need to improve the safe and efficient movement of freight.

The GROW AMERICA Act will better align planning among the Federal government, states, ports, and local communities to improve decision-making.  The GROW AMERICA Act incentivizes States to collaborate and establish long term freight strategic plans that will help inform a National Freight Strategic Plan by the U.S. Department of Transportation that will serve as the basis for how the Department can best support the needs of shippers, consumers, ports, communities, states, and transportation providers.

  • States that pursue comprehensive and sound planning involving multimodal stakeholders to improve freight mobility will be rewarded with direct formula funding to support game-changing freight investments.   States that go the next step and coordinate with their neighboring States to improve critical multistate freight corridors will be rewarded with additional funds to support those investments.  Funds not apportioned directly to States through this process will be used for multimodal discretionary competitions to support projects that hold the greatest promise to eliminate freight bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements.
  • Failing to make these investments could imperil future growth. One study estimates that roadway congestion delays cost shippers approximately $10 billion per year.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers found that the economy could lose almost $1 trillion in business sales and lose 3.5 million jobs annually beginning in 2020 if we fail to build our infrastructure to keep pace with this growth.

“The increasing congestion within the freight transportation system poses a threat to the efficient flow of the nation’s goods and has strained the system in some locations. Moreover, recent growth in international trade has placed even greater pressures on ports, border crossings, and distribution hubs—key links in the freight transportation system. Congestion delays that significantly constrain freight mobility in these areas could result in serious economic implications for the nation.”
-    U.S. Government Accountability Office, Freight Transportation: National Policy and Strategies Can Help Improve Freight Mobility; GAO-08-287, p. 1

The GROW AMERICA Act will help improve the U.S.’s long-term competitiveness by taking steps to achieve President Obama’s call to reduce the time it takes to break ground on a new transportation project.  In many cases, it can take years to break ground on planned projects that improve infrastructure critical to advancing our nation’s competitive edge.  These projects are essential to sustaining a lasting economy built in part by having fast and reliable movements of freight.

Updated: Friday, May 9, 2014