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November 21, 2013 National Freight Advisory Committee Record of Meeting Minutes

National Freight Advisory Committee

Record of Meeting

November 21, 2013

U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.

Public Announcement

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), announced this public meeting of the National Freight Advisory Committee (NFAC) in a Federal Register (FR) notice published on November 8, 2013 (78 FR 67210).

Committee Members in Attendance

Name

Title, Affiliation

Ann L. Schneider

NFAC Chair, Secretary, Illinois DOT

Mortimer L. Downey, III

NFAC Vice Chair,  Chairman,

Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors

Stephen Alterman

President, Cargo Airline Association 

Gregory A. Ballard

(Designee: Lori Miser, Director of Department of Public Works)

Mayor, City of Indianapolis

Kevin Brubaker

Deputy Director, Environmental Law and Policy Center

Jeffrey Burns

Board Member, Parents Against Tired Truckers

Terry Button

Board Member, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

Anne P. Canby

Director/Consultant, OneRail

Joan Claybrook

President Emeritus, Public Citizen

Kristin Decas

CEO and Port Director, Port of Hueneme

John H. Eaves

Chairman, Fulton County Commission

John E. Fenton

(Designee: Avery Grimes, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer)

President and CEO, Patriot Rail Company LLC

Karen Flynn

Vice President, Logistics and Goods and Services Purchasing, Arkema, Inc.

Carlos A. Gimenez

Mayor, Miami-Dade County

Genevieve Giuliano

Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Research and Technology, University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy Technology

John Thomas Gray II

Senior Vice-President, Policy and Economics, Association of American Railroads

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge

Director of Airports and Chief Executive Officer, Lambert International Airport

Brad Hildebrand

Global Mode Lead – Rail/Barge, Cargill Transportation & Logistics

Stacey D. Hodge

Director, Office of Freight Mobility, New York City Department of Transportation

James P. Hoffa

(Designee: Tim Beatty, Director of Global Strategies)

General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

José Holguín-Veras,

William H. Hart Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Jack A. Holmes

President, UPS Freight

Richard Inclima

Director of Safety, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees

Fran Inman

Senior VP, Majestic Realty Company, and Member CA Transportation Commission

Randy Iwasaki

(Designee: Sabrina Sussman, Vice President for Membership & Development, ITS America)

Executive Director, Contra Costa Transportation Authority

Michael Jewell

President, Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO

Paul R. Kelly

Vice President, Intermodal Division, A&S Services Group

Paul LaMarre, III

Port Director, Port of Monroe

Michelle Livingstone

Vice President, The Home Depot

Bonnie Lowenthal

State Assembly Member, California

Andrew S. Lynn

Director, Planning and Regional Development, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

C. Randal Mullett

Vice President, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Con-way, Inc.

Rosa Navejar

President, The Rios Group, Inc

Michael Nutter

(Designee: Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Utilities)

Mayor, City of Philadelphia 

Gary A. Palmer

Senior Director, Transportation, True Value Company

Craig Philip

(Designee: Blake Roberson, Senior Financial Analyst)

Chief Executive Officer, Ingram Barge Company

John Previsich

Assistant President and General Secretary and Treasurer, SMART – Transportation Division

William “Rob” Roberson

Materials and Logistics Manager

Nucor Steel – Berkeley

Christopher T. Rodgers

Commissioner/President, Douglas County, National Association of Counties

Mark Savage

Major, Colorado State Patrol, and President, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

Karen Schmidt

Executive Director, Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board

Ricky D. Smith

Director, Department of Port Control, Cleveland Airport

Mike Tooley

Director (CEO), Montana DOT

Peter G. Vigue

Chairman and CEO, The Cianbro Companies

C. Michael Walton

Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering

The University of Texas at Austin

Leonard D. Waterworth

Executive Director, Port of Houston Authority

A C Wharton, Jr

(Designee: George Little,  Senior Financial Analyst)

Mayor, City of Memphis

Ex-Officio Members and Other Officials Present

Name

Title, Affiliation

John Porcari

Deputy Secretary of Transportation, U.S. DOT

Polly Trottenberg

Under Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S. DOT

Daniel R. Elliott III,

(Designee: David Kruschwitz)

Chairman, Surface Transportation Board

Carlos R. Evans

Attorney-Advisor, Environmental Protection Agency

Penny Pritzker,

(Designee: David Long, )

Secretary, Department of Commerce

Jo-Ellen Darcy

(Designee: Pat Mutschler)

Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works),

Thomas S. Winkowski

Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Tretha Chromey

NFAC Designated Federal Officer, U.S. DOT

Call to Order

The second meeting of the NFAC was held at U.S. DOT Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on November 21, 2013. Tretha Chromey, DFO, called the meeting to order at 1:23 p.m. and introduced Chair Ann L. Schneider and Vice Chair Mortimer L. Downey. Chair Schneider presided over the meeting. The meeting was open to the public.

Opening Statements and NFAC Member Introductions

Chair Schneider said the NFAC had an aggressive agenda and noted that subcommittees would have time to work during a breakout session. In her opening, Chair Schneider echoed statements made by Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari that when examining the freight system, including its challenges and opportunities, NFAC has an opportunity to establish a framework that supports the economic success and viability of future generations. Chair Schneider thanked U.S. DOT for selecting a varied, talented group of people who are prepared to provide recommendations for a National Freight Strategic Plan. Before turning to Vice Chair Downey, Chair Schneider also thanked the committee members and reminded them that they would have an opportunity during the subcommittee breakout session to discuss actionable items.

Vice Chair Downey also echoed statements made by Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari and noted that the workshop, which had occurred over the past two days, made clear that the NFAC is serious about envisioning the future of the Nation’s freight system. Vice Chair Downey heard from some NFAC committee members that they would have preferred if the NFAC had conducted a visioning session six months ago, but that the subcommittee breakout sessions earlier in the week had provided a useful opportunity to flesh out this vision. Vice Chair Downey also reminded members that the U.S. DOT would like the NFAC to produce its recommendations quickly and efficiently.  

Chair Schneider thanked Vice Chair Downey and asked Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari for any additional remarks.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari thanked participants and noted that while the NFAC has a lot of work to do, good progress has been made on several early deliverables. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari also urged NFAC to move forward on its interim recommendations. Given that reauthorization of a surface transportation funding bill is currently under discussion, NFAC’s interim deliverables are timely.

Chair Schneider thanked Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari and asked members to introduce themselves for the record. Chair Ann Schneider also recognized U.S. DOT’s leadership and administrators. She then invited congressional staffers from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to speak.

Freight Presentation

“Improving the Nation’s Freight Transportation System: Findings and Recommendations of the Special Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation”

Shant Boyajian, Counsel for the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Jim Kolb, Staff Director of Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Shant Boyajian thanked NFAC members for the opportunity to address NFAC on important work being conducted by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Special Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation. That work will lead toward reauthorization of the surface transportation bill, anticipated next year. Boyajian described Chairman Bill Shuster’s vision to look across all modes of transportation and make recommendations about how the system can function more safely and efficiently and how it can perform at a higher level. Freight is critical to the U.S. economy, businesses, and everyday lives of citizens, but for a variety of reasons freight mobility has been viewed through modal silos rather than from a system perspective.

The panel was charged with examining how the entire freight system functions cohesively and it worked hard over a six-month period to fulfill its charge. The panel held six hearings for a variety of representatives and heard from both traditional and nontraditional stakeholders regarding freight issues, including trucking firms, railroads, unions, as well as individuals who are reliant on the freight system for access to markets. The purposes of these hearings were to educate panel members and to develop a systematic series of recommendations to implement in the next bill that will improve the freight system.

Boyajian referenced the panel’s report: “Improving the Nation’s Freight Transportation System: Findings and Recommendations of the Special Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation.” He summarized the goals of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which are to expand the Projects of National and Regional Significance (PNRS) program, identify dedicated funds, and use those funds to support projects that will enhance the Nation’s freight system. There are challenges related to identifying revenues and finances for freight projects that are outside the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s jurisdiction, but the committee is working closely on those issues and others with the House Committee on Ways and Means’ Chairman Dave Camp.

Boyajian introduced Jim Kolb, who emphasized that the panel’s process to develop the final report departed from prior experiences. The panel was pleased with the open, bipartisan process used to develop the report, which included developing a joint witness list and participating in joint fieldtrips.  Ranking Member Nick Rahall agreed with Chairman Shuster to pass the transportation reauthorization bill by September 30th of next year. Kolb also noted that there was overwhelming interest in participating in the panel. This interest reflects the importance of freight issues, the challenges that communities are facing, the impact of goods movement on local communities, and recognition of the importance of the Federal role in goods movement.

Kolb further emphasized that the final report was a consensus document that acknowledges the need for increased, robust investment to maintain and improve the freight system. The report supports legislation across all modes. The panel is also interested in the outcomes of NFAC and in U.S. DOT’s implementation of provisions associated with Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).

Chair Schneider thanked Boyajian and Kolb for their discussion and opened the floor for questions. She referenced the panel’s six key recommendations, which were based on outcomes of public hearings, and which are very important for NFAC to consider as it moves forward. Boyajian commented that the panel appreciates the Nation’s priority to develop a multimodal national freight policy, as this aligns with one of the panel’s recommendations. Kolb added that a national policy is an overarching framework that both pulls together and feeds into the panel’s remaining five recommendations.

Conditions, Performance, and Data Subcommittee (CPD-SC) Co-Chair Anne Canby expressed interest in any insights or lessons learned from the panel that might inform NFAC as it considers the same issues in approaching freight from a systems perspective rather than individual modes. Boyajian acknowledged the challenge of a systems perspective, especially since modes are generally funded individually. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hopes to expand the PNRS program to fund multimodal projects specifically. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has not yet identified a solution and would be eager to hear NFAC’s recommendations for bridging this gap and for delivering projects. Kolb added that U.S. DOT is organized into modal administrations with separate funding streams and the panel hoped to break down those silos.

Stephen Alterman asked about how appropriators and authorizers have been involved in the panel’s work as it relates to funding issues. Kolb responded that when there has been a dedicated revenue stream for transportation, appropriators have historically supported the authorized funding levels. Those discussions typically occur at the time of legislation.

Project Delivery and Operations Subcommittee (PDO-SC) Co-Chair Fran Inman commended the panel for its six-month turnaround and asked whether the panel will continue to convene since the work is continually evolving. Boyajian noted that the panel was constrained to working within a six-month period. While the panel does not currently exist as a formal entity, the members have continued to discuss the issues in informal settings. Additionally, Boyajian expects that freight mobility will be key priority in the next reauthorization bill. As part of the reauthorization process, there will be several additional hearings and listening sessions during which the freight community will have opportunities to provide input.

Congress called for a comprehensive freight transportation policy that directs U.S. DOT to designate a national multimodal freight network. Vice Chair Downey asked how this policy fits into MAP-21 work that is currently underway. Boyajian noted that the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is cognizant of the limitations present in MAP-21 regarding the primary freight network designations. He cited recommendations from the panel’s final report that encourage expanding the network beyond highway modes and identifying key facilities across all modes that facilitate goods movement. It is important to identify those facilities and resources to determine which may be eligible for funding in a future, expanded PNRS program.

José Holguín-Veras asked about how the panel viewed the roles of the first and last miles in a freight system. Boyajian responded that the panel was originally formed to address issues of developing first- and last-mile infrastructure. Some of the panel’s recommendations address first- and last-mile issues, such as congestion at intermodal transfer facilities.

Regarding funding for PNRS, Brad Hildebrand asked about criteria for prioritizing projects and about how the public and private sectors can work together to identify high-priority freight projects across all modes. Kolb recognized the challenge of prioritizing freight projects and stated that Congress has not yet developed a process for evaluating and prioritizing projects. He suggested the following potential selection criteria: financing package, types of facilities, volume of goods moving through, and alignment of project objectives to the objectives of a national, multimodal freight plan. The PNRS program existed in the past as an earmark. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) included effective language on selection criteria. Boyajian added that developing selection criteria is a difficult task and asked NFAC members to either individually or collectively provide input on how PNRS should be selected if they cannot be specifically named in an earmark.

Kristin Decas asked whether Congress shared NFAC’s sense of urgency given competing congressional priorities. Boyajian said the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure achieved consensus on its recommendations because all members recognize the importance of the work. Kolb added that there is agreement regarding the Federal role in freight and constitutional responsibility over freight. The question of how to translate that recognition into funding is a separate discussion.

Genevieve Giuliano noted NFAC’s aim to address technology and how this assists goods movement. She asked where technology fits into the panel’s recommendations. Boyajian said the Subcommittee on Highway and Transit has expressed interest in exploring expanded uses of innovative technologies to facilitate mobility and to increase safety. Even though autonomous trucks are years from development, there are other tactics such as smart ramps and metering that offer lower-cost solutions to congestion and are not being utilized to the full extent that they could be.

Research, Innovation, and Technology Subcommittee (RIT-SC) Co-Chair Terry Button asked about the panel’s short-term solutions for addressing the $132 billion deficit in infrastructure investment. Boyajian responded that Chairman Shuster realizes that it is essential to identify real revenues so that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) does not run out of funds in 2015. Chairman Shuster meets regularly with the House Committee on Ways and Means to discuss the major issue of addressing the HTF’s solvency. House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Camp recognizes this issue and understands that Congress cannot use the general fund to bail out the HTF.

David Long asked about how the panel’s recommendations relate to global economic performance and exports. Boyajian responded that increasing the safety and efficiency of the network domestically will lower costs of moving products overseas. He welcomed further input from the Department of Commerce in structuring programs to help American businesses that create jobs.

Paul Kelly observed that while the HTF has a deficit, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) has a surplus of funds that are not being spent for their intended use of dredging U.S. ports. Jim Kolb said the panel recommended increasing investments funded through the HMTF, which should spend down its existing surplus as well as incoming revenues.

Canby returned to the discussion regarding the PNRS. She asked whether the panel anticipated any issues in terms of using the HTF to fund non-highway projects. Kolb noted that the language in the original bill allows funding for projects outside of typical highway user benefits and suggested that multimodal projects may be eligible for funding as well.

Chair Schneider thanked Boyajian and Kolb again for their time and thanked the NFAC members for engaging in a lively discussion. She announced that the NFAC would soon disperse for the subcommittee breakout sessions and provided direction for the subcommittee discussions. She asked subcommittees to discuss and report back on the following items:

  • Should the NFAC provide collective comments on the Draft Highway Primary Freight Network (PFN), especially if U.S. DOT is able to extend the comment period?
  • What are timely, interim recommendations that the subcommittees can make today or between today and the next NFAC meeting?
  • What are two or three key focus areas for each subcommittee moving forward?

Chair Schneider reminded the members that in developing their work plans, they should be cognizant that U.S. DOT staff must participate either physically or virtually in all meetings, including in-person meetings that the subcommittees may schedule between full NFAC meetings. The purpose of the work plans is to identify information needs and common areas of interest so that U.S. DOT can coordinate the dissemination of printed or presented materials.

Kevin Brubaker, Safety, Security and Environment (SSE)-SC Co-Chair, asked about what opportunity the subcommittees have for proposing recommendations to the full NFAC during the meeting and about the deadline for deliverables, including the work plan. Chair Schneider clarified that the subcommittees would have the opportunity to present two or three topic areas around which they would later develop recommendations. Once a subcommittee reports its recommendations, the full NFAC can assess whether these are good recommendations to pursue and the subcommittee can then develop the language in advance of the next meeting. Regarding the work plan, subcommittees have until mid-December to submit that deliverable.

Brubaker asked a follow-up question regarding the overall timeline for final products so that the subcommittees can determine what schedule is appropriate for producing those final products. Chair Schneider clarified that NFAC’s final recommendations are due in May 2014. Between now and then, the subcommittees can provide timely, interim recommendations to address the “low-hanging fruit.” Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari added that to the extent that issues arise on a faster timeframe, the subcommittees should not hesitate to move more quickly and make recommendations sooner. Inman stated that the PDO-SC would have at least one draft recommendation to present due to the need for timeliness. Chair Schneider said NFAC could try to reach consensus on any recommendations presented during the meeting.

Chromey provided directions to the NFAC regarding breakout session locations.

Subcommittee Breakout Session

Minutes from the subcommittee breakout session are included in Appendix 1: Subcommittee Breakout Session Minutes.

Subcommittees Report Out and Member Discussion

Chair Schneider asked for members to go around the table and to report out from their seats. Vice Chair Downey reminded the subcommittees to present on those items they intend to work on over the next few weeks. Vice Chair Downey also noted that once the subcommittees are ready to make recommendations, they should also share those proposals; if NFAC reaches a consensus, the subcommittee can move forward to further develop that recommendation. If not, then the subcommittee should wait to continue the discussion at a later meeting.

Chair Schneider invited the Conditions, Performance, and Data Subcommittee to begin.

Conditions, Performance, and Data Subcommittee (CPD-SC)

Canby stated that the CPD-SC plans to support the other NFAC subcommittees in their focus areas by assessing current conditions, identifying data gaps, and making recommendations for filling those gaps. She requested that the other NFAC subcommittees submit their goals and areas of focus so that the CPD-SC may focus its efforts on those high-priority topic areas. Canby stated that the CPD-SC will begin to identify data gaps and discontinued data sources, but that the subcommittee has no interim recommendations at this time.

Chair Schneider thanked Canby and turned to the Safety, Security, and Environment Subcommittee.  

Safety, Security, and Environment Subcommittee (SSE-SC)

Brubaker explained SSE-SC’s approach to its charge. The SSE-SC divided into three separate working groups, or sub-subcommittees, to address the areas of safety, security, and environment. Having nearly completed the security focus area’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis and identified a significant overlap between the safety and environment areas, the SSE-SC plans to reconvene as a full subcommittee moving forward.

Brubaker noted that the full subcommittee will focus primarily on three areas of interest:

  • Increasing insurance premiums (minimums) on commercial vehicles to regulate truck safety;
  • Harmonizing security credentialing; and
  • Exploring incentives and policies to encourage off-peak goods movement.

Brubaker next summarized the SSE-SC’s comments to the PFN. SSE-SC appreciates that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) answered the question posed by Congress, but the SSE-SC believes that Congress did not ask the right question in the first place. A PFN that considers only highways does not constitute a network, as goods movement relies on a multimodal system and is not reliant only on trucks. Furthermore, the policy implications or intentions of developing a PFN are unclear; what is the appropriate next step once FHWA identifies the locations of the busiest highways?

Chair Schneider thanked Brubaker and turned to Project Delivery and Operations Subcommittee.

Project Delivery and Operations Subcommittee (PDO-SC)

Karen Schmidt, PDO-SC Co-Chair, described the subcommittee’s approach. The PDO-SC identified several interest areas that overlap with the First and Last Mile Subcommittee (FLM-SC) and International Freight Strategies and Operations Subcommittee (IFSO-SC). PDO-SC is hosting a joint meeting with FLM-SC and IFSO-SC on December 6 to discuss border concerns. The PDO-SC is also planning an in-person subcommittee meeting in Chicago in early January. Moving forward, the subcommittee will focus on developing recommendations regarding streamlining project environmental review processes. To assist the PDO-SC’s progress, Schmidt requested information from DOT regarding congressional committees/districts and their respective responsibilities/jurisdictions to better understand freight transportation-related funding and decision-making.

Schmidt turned to Inman to introduce two interim recommendations on behalf of the subcommittee. Inman read the following recommendation:

Be it Resolved, by the Project Delivery & Operations Subcommittee of the National Freight Advisory Committee that the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program be continued and include funding for multimodal freight projects. The Subcommittee appreciates the successful TIGER awards that have brought meaningful transportation projects forward that otherwise may not have been delivered. However, we believe that it is essential for Congress to authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation to administer the TIGER program with a special emphasis for transportation projects that enhance and promote the efficiency and effectiveness of a multimodal freight system. We further recommend that congress appropriate funds accordingly.

Schmidt noted that the resolution had unanimous support within PDO-SC. Chair Schneider reminded NFAC members that they each received a copy of the draft recommendation and asked if there was consensus around the recommendation or if any members strongly opposed it. The discussion that followed focused on the resolution’s timing as well as its references to authorizing and appropriating funds and to “multimodal freight projects.”

Regarding timing, Inman stated that TIGER operates on continuing resolution and therefore the timing of the resolution is essential. Vice Chair Downey added that the TIGER program is signed on a year-to-year basis and that the decision on whether to include TIGER in the next appropriations bill would be made November 2013.

Regarding authorization and appropriation, Polly Trottenberg, Under Secretary for Transportation Policy, clarified that the TIGER program is not authorized by Congress, but that the House and Senate are considering what appropriations to include. She added that asking Congress to approve TIGER is different from asking Congress to authorize it. Brubaker called attention to the draft language “it is essential for Congress to authorize…,” which appears in the third sentence of the draft resolution. Inman suggested either deleting that sentence or changing “authorize” to “continue.”

Regarding the draft language “include funding for multimodal freight projects,” Rick Inclima asked the PDO-SC

Co-Chairs we asked to provide clarification on whether the resolution asks for appropriation of additional funding for multimodal projects or whether the resolution asks for a greater share of TIGER funds to be awarded to multimodal projects. Inman responded that freight has historically been competitive in the TIGER program and clarified that the resolution is meant to encourage a continuation of the program in general, not to pick-and-choose specific projects. Rina Cutler suggested changing “multimodal freight projects” to “multimodal projects” because while many transportation needs are multimodal, not all are freight-specific. Under Secretary for Transportation Policy Trottenberg noted that freight projects have successfully won approximately one-third of TIGER funds on their own merit without any special language. Because the TIGER program has previously funded multimodal projects, Hildebrand suggested ending the first sentence at the word “continued.”

Following the discussion, during which the NFAC members reached consensus, Chair Schneider read the revised version of the PDO-SC’s interim recommendation:

Be it Resolved, by the National Freight Advisory Committee that the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program be continued. The Subcommittee appreciates the successful TIGER awards that have brought meaningful transportation projects forward that otherwise may not have been delivered. We further recommend that Congress appropriate funds accordingly.

The NFAC formally adopted its first resolution. The final resolution is included in Appendix 2: Final Resolutions.

Inman invited Paul LaMarre to read the PDO-SC’s second proposed interim recommendation:

The nation’s ports are vital engines of economic growth for the United States and its citizens. U.S. ports are responsible for generating 13.3 million jobs, $3.2 trillion in annual economic impacts, and generate $212 billion in Federal, State, and local taxes. America’s ports move $3.8 billion worth of goods a day, which equals $1.4 trillion, equivalent to 25 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

The Harbor Maintenance Tax is a user fee collected by the U.S. Government to ensure the adequate maintenance and operations of the nation’s waterway infrastructure. Among the chief intended purposes of the Harbor Maintenance Tax is the dredging of the nation’s channels and harbors to their maximum federally-authorized depth. In recent years, more fees have been collected than expended and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund contains a surplus of $8.2 billion. At the same time, there is a growing backlog of dredging needs throughout the nation’s harbors and channels.

As a result, the National Freight Advisory Committee urges passage of legislation to ensure the Harbor Maintenance Tax fees collected and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund surplus be expended for their intended purpose and that the nation’s harbors and channels are dredged to and maintained at their maximum federally-authorized depth.

Chair Schneider invited NFAC members to discuss the proposed recommendation. Decas, a member of the American Association of Port Authorities, stated that the draft language has consensus within that organization. Cutler expressed her support and asked whether the HMTF could be used for port-related infrastructure needs beyond dredging. LaMarre responded that ports cannot be concerned about other infrastructure needs if they are unable to receive a ship. Furthermore, spending the HMTF on other infrastructure needs may raise concerns within the international community that pays the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT). He cited the following statistic: only 35 percent of channels are dredged to their federally authorized depth at any given time. Alterman expressed his support for the draft resolution and asked an administrative question regarding the recommendation process. Porcari responded that he would present the NFAC’s interim recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation, who would in turn present them to Congress.

Chair Schneider asked if any NFAC members opposed the resolution; hearing none, she acknowledged consensus and formally recorded the NFAC’s second recommendation. The final resolution is included in Appendix 2: Final Resolutions.

Chair Schneider thanked the PDO-SC and turned to the Research, Innovation and Technology Subcommittee.

Research, Innovation and Technology Subcommittee (RIT-SC)

Button referenced the seven core goals that NFAC and U.S. DOT developed earlier in the week. He stated that the RIT-SC will consider research and development within those core goals and evaluate how investment in technology will impact those goals, especially related to dredging, congestion, and multimodal connections. He cited off-peak deliveries as one innovation in congestion management and suggested that RIT-SC consider what incentives or penalties could be implemented to encourage shipper and receivers to rely on off-peak schedules. Button concluded by stating opposition to increasing insurance premiums in the trucking industry as proposed by SSE-SC; he commented that there is no correlation between insurance premiums and safety.

Chair Schneider thanked Button and turned to the International Freight Strategies and Operations Subcommittee.

International Freight Strategies and Operations  Subcommittee (IFSO-SC)

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, IFSO-SC Co-Chair, expressed concern about supporting the PFN given that it does not include an overlay of all transportation modes. She stated that she believes global competitiveness is the key to success and encouraged the NFAC to take a broader look at other countries as case studies. Hamm-Niebruegge covered topics including HMT, speed of transit across all borders via all modes (U.S. Customs and Border Protection staffing, 24-hour staffing), electronic clearance system enhancements, increased focus on secondary airports to allow incoming air cargo, increased competitiveness of U.S. freight movements; the future of ocean shipping, and the Panama Canal expansion and its implications. The IFSO-SC requested that U.S. DOT staff supply several additional studies/reports to understand those issues.

Vice Chair Downey commented that a Maritime Administration (MARAD) study regarding the implications of the Panama Canal expansion will soon be published and that MARAD will hold a session on national maritime policy. Regarding ocean shipping, Chair Schneider asked if the IFSO-SC is considering arctic lanes. Hamm-Niebruegge responded that the subcommittee is concerned about not having a full understanding of what the future of shipping will look like and that it needs to have projections.

Chair Schneider thanked Hamm-Niebruegge and turned to the First and Last Mile Subcommittee.

First and Last Mile Subcommittee (FLM-SC)

Michelle Livingstone, FLM-SC Co-Chair, noted that the FLM-SC would address three points during its presentation. John Gray provided the subcommittee’s input on the PFN, then Chris Rodgers presented one immediate recommendation; finally, Stacey Hodge provided input on the work plan moving forward.

Gray acknowledged that Congress constrained the U.S. DOT to 27,000 miles for the highway PFN. Congress therefore did not allow U.S. DOT the necessary latitude to address the full import of the National Highway System that is essential to freight; as U.S. DOT proposed, 41,000 miles would probably not provide a complete descriptor of what the highway system should be. Additionally, the draft highway PFN map is essentially rural. In turn, the map does not reflect very critical routes that connect the national network to local logistics centers and industrial centers, intermodal yards, and ports. Gray noted that the intermodal connectors are not necessarily interstate routes, but could be the most expensive in terms of freight movement and also the most densely used.

The subcommittee believes it is important that any further development involve urban routes that are critical connectors to the national network. It is also important to understand how this system exists in conjunction with the remainder of the freight network. On page 12 of the report by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, there is a similar map that the subcommittee believed provided a better representation of how the highway network fits into the broader transportation network. Finally, Gray noted the subcommittee’s concern with the review process, expressing their belief that 30 days is inadequate, especially given the complex topic area and the fact that the data are difficult to understand and in many cases unavailable. A 60-day review period would be more appropriate, particularly given the holidays. Comments during the review period could include a request that data supporting conclusions be provided as part of the review process.

Chair Schneider asked the NFAC if it wanted to provide comments as a whole. One formal recommendation could be to extend the review period. She asked if anyone had any comments or if all were in favor of recommending an extension of the review period for the PFN. Hamm-Niebruegge requested that the PFN also include an overlay of other modes.

Chair Schneider asked to collect comments and re-circulate them in an iterative process so that NFAC could reach a consensus on what comments it could submit. To begin that process, members could provide comments and suggestions for collection in subcommittee meeting minutes. Then, co-chairs could submit information to the full NFAC. Finally, everything could be captured and consolidated and the whole committee could provide final approval.

Rodgers presented a proposed recommendation to continue the tax exemption for municipal bonds. Without this tax exemption, local governments would not be able to finance infrastructure projects to the extent that they currently do. Cutler supported the recommendation and requested that the language tie into the NFAC’s efforts. Without the tax exemption, local governments will be inhibited from making infrastructure improvements to the freight network. Rodgers agreed. Committee members continued the discussion of the tax exemption on municipal bonds, concluding that they would support Rodger and the FLM-SC in their recommendation. Chair Schneider stated that she and Vice Chair Downey will type and circulate the recommendation and then ask for consensus to move forward so that freight investments could continue at the State and local levels.

Alterman asked for clarification on the process and whether the Administration is in support of removing the tax exemption as a way to generate additional revenue. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari said that U.S. DOT would faithfully represent any positions that the NFAC makes, even if it is not a U.S. DOT or Administration position.

Gray noted that local municipalities take advantage of tax exempt municipal bonds to support projects where they are pursuing public-private partnerships. Many local governments leverage the inclusion of private money in projects. If this source is cut off, then it impacts the investment of private money as well.

Holguín-Veras advocated that the NFAC provide strong support of the tax exemption given its impact on the final consumption of freight and to ensure the lifeblood of local economies.

Chair Schneider opened the public comment period, inviting public representatives to form a line by the microphone.

Public Comment

Chromey said that if no one from the public wanted to address the NFAC, then it would continue its discussion. Chair Schneider closed the public comment period and invited FLM-SC to continue its report out to the committee.

Subcommittee Report Outs and Member Discussion (Continued)

Livingstone turned to Hodge to continue the discussion. Hodge referenced Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx’s address to NFAC in which he cited examples of how jobs can be tied to a particular port’s capacity. After drafting its SWOT analysis, the FLM-SC decided to focus on gathering evidence of freight’s significance. On October 29, 2013, Hodge teamed with three other NFAC members, including Holguín-Veras, Andrew Lynn, and Button, to host a listening session for freight stakeholders in the New York-New Jersey area. The New York State Department of Transportation will next host a similar listening session in rural New York and then report back on the outcomes.

FLM-SC will also participate in a joint subcommittee meeting with IFSO-SC and PDO-SC on December 6, 2013, to discuss common issues. Additionally, FLM-SC will host an in-person meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, to visit warehouses there and better understand land use issues from the first and last mile perspective. Through webinars, listening sessions, and site visits, FLM-SC will develop and execute its work plan.

Chair Schneider thanked Hodge and asked if there were any additional items discussed during the subcommittee breakout session that members would like to discuss with the full committee. Upon hearing no additional comments, she stated that the NFAC could move to the closing remarks portion of the agenda. She also noted that Chromey would facilitate an electronic vote (either online or by email) on the draft bylaws, which U.S. DOT staff revised to reflect members’ comments.

Following the subcommittee report outs, Chair Schneider asked for consensus to prepare a joint comment on the designation of the primary freight network.  There was consensus from the members that were present. 

Closing Remarks and Adjournment

Chair Schneider noted that over past three days, NFAC engaged in significant work and demonstrated that having a diversity of viewpoints is critical to the conversation about a National Freight Strategic Plan. She was glad that members were able to take broader perspectives than those of their individual organizations and work together towards recommendations for the strategic plan. She emphasized that being involved in the process for developing the National Freight Strategic Plan is not only an honor but a responsibility, and she stated her appreciation for members’ commitment and that of the U.S. DOT to NFAC’s work. Chair Schneider asked Vice Chair Downey for additional comments and for Chromey to review NFAC’s upcoming schedule.

Vice Chair Downey echoed Chair Schneider’s thanks to all the committee members for getting to the heart of issues and extended thanks to the U.S. DOT for organizing the workshop, listening to NFAC members, and accepting NFAC’s recommendations.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari thanked Chair Schneider and Vice Chair Downey for leading NFAC. He said that NFAC’s adoption of resolutions showed how well the members understood the timeliness of the conversation. He also emphasized the importance of having a diversity of perspectives around the table, as U.S. DOT’s goal is to develop a National Freight Strategic Plan that has strong consensus and can lead to a comprehensive freight system.

Chair Schneider asked Jennifer Villarreal of the U.S. DOT/Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, to read a draft resolution regarding NFAC’s opposition to the elimination of tax exemptions for municipal bonds. Hamm-Niebruegge asked if the language needed to tie into the national freight system or whether that would hamper the ability to make improvements to the multimodal system. For example, an alternative phrasing may be “to continue to support investment in freight infrastructure in the Nation at the [S]tate and local level[s].” Holguín-Veras also emphasized a connection to local jobs.

Chair Schneider asked if there was consensus among the NFAC members to support the recommendation or whether any members opposed it. Hearing no opposition, she announced the formal adoption of the fourth resolution. The final resolution is included in Appendix 2: Final Resolutions.

Chair Schneider clarified that the resolutions related to TIGER and to the HMTF would be officially submitted to Deputy Secretary of Transportation Porcari and that the resolutions regarding the extended comment period and tax exemption would be submitted to him as well once Chair Schneider and Vice Chair Downey had an opportunity to sign them.

Chromey reiterated that the NFAC meets on a quarterly basis and consequently the U.S. DOT would coordinate the following meeting to occur in February 2014. She noted that the U.S. DOT would like to coordinate with the Department of Commerce so that NFAC could meet with the Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness. In the interim, she noted that she was unable to give the CPD-SC and PDO-SC tutorials on using the Collaborative Workspace earlier in the week and suggested that members ask her for that information as needed.

Regarding scheduling, Vice Chair Downey stated that not all the meetings should be located in Washington, D.C., and reminded members to attend “freight day” at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in January 2014. Chromey also noted that the U.S. DOT would assist subcommittees in coordinating any meetings that overlapped with the TRB Annual Meeting.

Inclima commented that it would be helpful to determine successive meeting dates at each meeting so that members could reserve time on their calendars and make travel arrangements. Chair Schneider asked the members to reserve the week of February 17, 2014 as a placeholder for the next NFAC meeting.

Chair Schneider asked for final comments and adjourned the meeting at 4:34 p.m.

Appendix 1: Subcommittee Breakout Session Minutes

Conditions Performance and Data Subcommittee

(CPD-SC) Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: 11/21/2013

Subcommittee Members and DOT Staff in Attendance

Name

Affiliation

Anne Canby, Co-chair

OneRail Coalition

Jack Holmes, Co-chair

UPS Freight

Mort Downey, NFAC Vice Chair

CAGTC

Craig Philip

(Designee Blake Roberson)

Ingram Barge Company

Rob Roberson

Nucor Corporation

Mike Tooley

Montana DOT

Rolf Schmitt       

RITA - BTS

Jack Wells

OST

Gina Solman

RITA - Volpe

Approximately 10 members of government and industry attended.

Call to Order

Ann Canby welcomed everyone and called the meeting to order.

Tasks

  • Jack Holmes stated that the goals of the CPD-SC include identifying gaps in data and recommending solutions as needed. Based on initial review, it is apparent that there are data gaps in regards to rail and air cargo. Highway data are accessible and CPD-SC is looking into inland waterway information. Canby noted that the CPD-SC can also leverage work conducted by the US Department of Commerce. CPD-SC will seek to identify a source of data for each mode.
  • Canby and Holmes stated that the CPD-SC needs input from other subcommittees to inform CPD-SC work. In the beginning, CPD-SC work will lag behind other subcommittees, but will soon move ahead to become a resource for other subcommittees.
    • Holmes noted that during the report out immediately following the breakout, the CPD-SC will request each subcommittee to submit their recommendations on data issues.
  • The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Chief Economist Jack Wells stated a priority is to refine the list of measures for the DOT Freight Conditions and Performance (C&P) report that DOT must issue by the end of September 2014. The review process includes multiple organizations including DOT and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), so DOT needs to prepare a draft report by the end of March. Holmes requested CPD-SC input by the end of February in order to include the information into the report and begin the review process. The C&P report is due every two years. The first report will be based on existing data, and each year DOT will strive to improve the report.
  • Wells stated that DOT is beginning to think about reauthorization and issues in data as part of the reauthorization process.  DOT will consider data used to inform the C&P report, to analyze projects (e.g. Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover [TIGER] grant program and benefit/cost analyses), and for forecasting. For example, the freight analysis framework includes a 30-year forecast that depends on the commodity flow survey as a primary source of data on freight flows in the US.  DOT wants to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the commodity flow survey. In addition, some data sources have been discontinued over the years; there is value in determining important data sources and how to restore them. Wells stated he would like to reach out to CPD-SC members with information on air cargo and community impacts.
  • Wells stated that the DOT C&P presentation shown to the CPD-SC on November 19 identified current available data, and it can be used a starting point for near-term CPD-SC work. Canby stated that performance measures should come from the six goals the DOT identified based on Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), as listed in the DOT C&P presentation.
    • CPD-SC members discussed that further dialogue on reauthorization topics, including issues involved with reauthorizing data programs, should occur before the next NFAC meeting.
  • On January 12, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) will host a Sunday workshop that will include information on the Canada Freight Fluidity Index (Index). The workshop will include discussion of issues involved in development of the Index, and presenters will seek input from participants. Presenters are planning to hold a subsequent meeting in May. Rolf Schmitt will share information about the January 12 workshop with CPD-SC members. Holmes encouraged CPD-SC members to attend, given the importance and relevance of this workshop to CPD-SC tasks.
  • CPD-SC discussed coordination mechanisms, including greater use of email and the NFAC Collaborative Workspace.
    • Canby requested a tutorial on use of the Collaborative Workspace.
  • CPD-SC discussed development of the CPD-SC Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Schmitt stated the SWOT should focus on data (not conditions and performance of the freight system). Schmitt suggested all CPD-SC members email ideas for inclusion in the SWOT analysis, and Volpe staff can compile comments into one document.

Key Milestones and Action Items

  • CPD-SC discussed key milestones for the subcommittee, including:
    • As soon as possible, draft the CPD-SC SWOT analysis and Work Plan. CPD-SC members are asked to email ideas to the entire CPD-SC.
    • By mid-December, request and receive input from other subcommittees on potential measures for CPD-SC to focus on. CPD-SC will share the DOT C&P presentation to articulate needs.
    • On January 12, the TRB workshop will include information on the Canada Freight Fluidity Index; CPD-SC participation is encouraged.
    • Directly preceding or following the January 12 TRB workshop, the CPD-SC will consider scheduling an in-person meeting. Potential agenda topics include discussing input from subcommittees that was provided in December and the role of data in reauthorization.
    • By the end of February, Wells requests CPD-SC input to the C&P report.

Adjournment

Holmes and Canby thanked everyone for their input and adjourned the meeting.

Safety, Security, and Environment Subcommittee (SSE-SC)

Subcommittee Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: 11/21/2013

Subcommittee Members and DOT Staff in Attendance

Name

Affiliation

Kevin Brubaker, Co-Chair

Environmental Law & Policy Center

Jeff Burns

Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways

Joan Claybrook

Public Citizen

Rick Inclima

Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees

Randy Mullett

Con-way Inc.

Mark Savage

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance; Colorado State Patrol

Debbie Freund, DOT Staff Lead

FMCSA

Rebecca Higgins

OST

David Murk

OST

Ben Thielen

FAA

Ex-Officio Members

Name

Affiliation

Carlos Evans

EPA

Patricia Mutschler

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Welcome

Kevin Brubaker, SSE-SC Co-Chair, opened the meeting and welcomed the participants.

Discussion of Draft Highway Primary Freight Network

The subcommittee discussed the Draft Highway Primary Freight Network (PFN) as published to the Federal Register and presented to NFAC on November 19. Debbie Freund, SSE-SC DOT Staff Lead, explained how the PFN was designated. Federal designations have a lot to do with funding; in designating the PFN, DOT followed a set of criteria as specified by Congress in MAP-21. Congress tasked DOT with developing a 27,000 centerline-mile network based on identified corridors. In compiling the PFN, DOT realized 27,000 centerline-mile network did not correlate to actual highway miles and consequently expanded upon the model with a 41,000 mile version. While Congress directed DOT to create a map of the PFN, it did not provide instructions on how to use the map. MAP-21 does not identify any follow-up actions from developing the PFN. The subcommittee’s major comments on the draft map included:

  • The map is highway-centric and excludes other modes
  • The map lacks connector routes such as north-south routes out of New Orleans
  • The map shows where freight currently flows by truck, but it does not illustrate rail, pipeline, or waterborne freight or any network connections
  • The map’s purpose and intended use is unclear

Preliminary Recommendations

Brubaker asked each working group to propose interim recommendations or action items, largely based on the items identified in their draft SWOT analyses.

Safety Working Group

The Safety Working Group proposed the following interim recommendations:

  • Increase insurance requirements for commercial truck operators, which may be incentivized through adjustments to their FMCSA Safety Management System scores, to internalize costs of trucking industry;
  • Incentivize off-peak utilization of highway network, including encouragement of off-peak deliveries;
  • Incentivize the purchase of safety equipment, such as through exemptions from heavy vehicle excise tax or provisions of tax rebates; and
  • Advance initiatives to establish crash-worthiness requirements for commercial vehicles and to implement “crash avoidance” technology, such as heavy0vehicle stability-control (DOT currently has rulemakings on both initiatives).

Security Working Group

The Security Working Group proposed the following interim recommendation:

  • Harmonize security credentialing (e.g., TWIC, CDL, HM endorsement, CPAT, etc.) across freight modes; and
  • Include infrastructure planning and security considerations in state freight plans.

Environment Working Group

The Environment Working Group proposed the following interim recommendations:

  • Incentivize “conversion” of older vehicles (trucks, locomotives, etc.) and accelerate fleet turnover;
  • Conduct research on non-motorized deliveries and central delivery systems;
  • Provide more truck parking; and
  • Conduct studies on the health impacts of freight transportation routes.

Next Steps

Approach

Moving forward, Brubaker proposed that the SSE-SC dissolve its working groups and continue working as a full subcommittee. The participants agreed to this approach, considering the fact that the Security Working Group completed its SWOT analysis and the significant overlap between the Safety Working Group and the Environmental Working Group. Brubaker emphasized that SSE-SC should consider pipeline safety.

Schedule

As a full subcommittee, SSE-SC will meet regularly on Monday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. (EST). Brubaker requested that members reserve that timeslot on their calendars on a weekly basis moving forward, though the subcommittee will likely meet only every two to three weeks. Interim meetings will be canceled as needed.

Guest Speakers

Moving forward, the DOT staff will invite subject matter experts to address the SSE-SC as guest speakers on relevant topics, including: pipeline safety, EPA/NHTSA rulemaking on heavy vehicle fuel economy standards, anti-idling technologies and “green” locomotives, steamship cold-ironing, freight security, and other pertinent topics.

Requests for Information

DOT staff will also respond to subcommittee members’ requests for information, such as FHWA and TRB reports regarding avoidance of adverse community impact.

Adjournment

Brubaker thanked the participants and ended the meeting at 3:00 p.m. (EST).

Project Delivery & Operations Subcommittee (PDO-SC)

Subcommittee Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: 11/21/2013

Subcommittee Members and DOT Staff in Attendance

Name

Affiliation

Fran Inman, Co-Chair

Majestic Realty Co.

Karen Schmidt, Co-Chair

Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board

Kristin Decas

Port of Hueneme, CA

Paul LaMarre

Port of Monroe, MI

Ann Schneider, NFAC Chair

Illinois DOT

Caitlin Rayman, DOT Staff Lead

DOT-HOFM

Paul Baumer

DOT-OST

Victoria Farr

RITA-Volpe

Subcommittee Members Designees

Name

Affiliation

Designee

Fran Inman, Co-Chair

Majestic Realty Co.

Annie Nam

Gregory Ballard

City of Indianapolis

Lori Miser

John Fenton

Patriot Rail Corp.

Avery Grimes

Ann Schneider, NFAC Chair

Illinois DOT

Kevin Schoeben

Welcome

Karen Schmidt, PDO-SC Co-Chair, began the meeting by welcoming the participants, including members of the public. There was no agenda for the meeting, but Schmidt proposed that the subcommittee begin the meeting with a discussion of the upcoming meeting schedule and proposed guest speakers for those dates.

Upcoming Meeting Schedule and Speakers

Based on the assumption that DOT would tentatively schedule the next full NFAC meeting in February 2014, the subcommittee reviewed its upcoming meeting schedule. The proposed subcommittee meeting schedule, including webinars, calls, and in-person site visits, leading up to the February 2014 NFAC meeting is outlined below:

Friday, December 6 (webinar)

  • Joint meeting with FLM-SC and IFSO-SC
  • Discuss Element D: Identification of major trade gateways and national freight corridors
  • Potential speakers include:
    • Tay Yoshitani, Port of Seattle, regarding Canadian investment in freight delivery system and impacts to U.S. ports
    • Mike Moore, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, regarding ship owner decision making when selecting where ships will operate; primary and discretionary port considerations; and some operational and policy barriers at U.S. ports
    • Tina Casgar, SANDAG, regarding Mexican border challenges, infrastructure and operational barriers, and impacts of near shoring

Friday, December 20 (call)

  • Discuss Element J: Strategies to improve freight intermodal connectivity
  • Potential speakers include:
    • Joni Casey, IANA
    • Mike Steenhoek, Soy Transportation Coalition
    • Representative (TBD) from CSX regarding the intermodal facility in N. Baltimore
      • Alternative rail representatives include Tom Hoback, INRD, and General Rich Timmons

Thursday, January 9 – Friday, January 10 (in-person)

  • Meeting in Chicago beginning morning of January 9 and running through mid- to late-afternoon of January 10

Note: these dates were agreed upon in place of the originally proposed January 20 – January 22 time frame

  • Site visits, likely back-to-back and preferably on January 9:
    • CREATE
    • Joliet

Friday, January 24 (call)

  • Discuss Element I: Process for addressing multistate projects and encouraging collaboration

Note: presentation on border challenges on December 6 will cover the international perspective of multi-jurisdictional coordination

  • Potential speakers include:
    • I-95 Corridor Coalition for operational perspective
    • Columbia Crossing for lessons learned
    • Illianna Expressway for infrastructure cooperation

Caitlin Rayman, PDO-SC DOT Staff Lead, clarified that the call originally scheduled for January 3 would be canceled and that the bi-weekly call schedule would continue between January 24 and the next NFAC meeting. Additionally, Paul Baumer, PDO-SC DOT Staff, recommended representatives from an interagency group discussing efforts to streamline project permitting and delivery across (and within) modes to address the group at a future meeting.

SWOT Analysis

At the November 19 meeting, Fran Inman, PDO-SC Co-Chair, had recommended tabling the discussion of the draft SWOT analysis until after the visioning session. Accordingly, Schmidt and Inman referenced the draft SWOT analysis and requested that the PDO-SC members review and submit any comments or edits on the document to DOT staff by the December 20 meeting so that DOT staff could prepare a consolidated version for additional review and discussion during the in-person meeting. Inman encouraged the subcommittee members consider relevant reference materials to share with the group in preparation for upcoming discussion topics.

Preliminary Recommendations

The subcommittee reviewed the language of two draft recommendations:

Expenditure of the Harbor Maintenance Tax and Trust Fund

Inman introduced a handout titled “Draft NFAC Recommendation” that contained language vetted by MARAD, AAPA, and USACE regarding the Harbor Maintenance Tax and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Members estimated that based on the existing surplus of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, within five years ports could address the backlog of dredging projects. The subcommittee discussed minor changes to the draft language, as reflected in red text below, and universally agreed to present the revised recommendation to the full NFAC:

“The nation’s ports are vital engines of economic growth for the United States and its citizens. U.S. ports are responsible for generating 13.3 million jobs, $3.2 trillion in annual economic impacts, and generate $212 billion in Federal, State, and local taxes. America’s ports move $3.8m billion worth of goods a day, which equals $1.4 trillion annually, equivalent to 25 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

The Harbor Maintenance Tax is a user fee collected by the U.S. Government to ensure the adequate maintenance and operations of the nation’s waterway infrastructure. Among the chief intended purposesd of the Harbor Maintenance Tax is the dredging of the nation’s channels and harbors to their maximum federally-authorized depth. In recent years, more fees have been collected than expended and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund contains a surplus of $8.2 billion. At the same time, there is a growing backlog of dredging needs throughout the nation’s harbors and channels.

As a result, the National Freight Advisory Committee urges passage of legislation to ensure that the Harbor Maintenance Tax fees collected and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund surplus be expended for their intended purpose and that the nation’s harbors and channels are dredged to and maintained at their maximum federally-authorized depth.”

Continuation of the TIGER Grant Program

The subcommittee also reviewed proposed language for a draft recommendation regarding the TIGER program. Freight projects have traditionally received approximately one-third of TIGER grant funds, but during the most recent round freight projects’ share decreased to one-fourth of the TIGER awards. Members speculated that perhaps the average award amount is too small to be attractive to freight projects or that the freight applications were not competitive. The subcommittee discussed minor changes to the draft language, such as the use of “multi modal,” “intermodal,” or “across all modes,” and universally agreed to present the revised recommendation to the full NFAC:

“Be it Resolved, by the Project Delivery & Operations Subcommittee of the National Freight Advisory Committee that the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program be continued. The Subcommittee appreciates the successful TIGER awards that have brought meaningful transportation projects forward that otherwise may not have been delivered. We further recommend that Congress appropriate funds accordingly.”

Environmental Streamlining

The subcommittee discussed another recommendation for future consideration regarding extending the MAP-21 environmental streamlining processes to other modes besides highway and transit. The subcommittee will gather additional information from FAA, MARAD, and FRA regarding opportunities for streamlining the environmental review processes in refining this recommendation for a later time.

Draft Highway Primary Freight Network

Rayman reminded the PDO-SC to consider whether NFAC should provide collective comment on the Draft Highway Primary Freight Network (PFN). There was consensus by the subcommittee that NFAC should provide collective comment on the Draft Highway Primary Freight Network (PFN) and at a minimum request that the public comment period be extended beyond 30 days. While it may be difficult to form a consensus on specific, interstate-level comments, NFAC can likely agree on a general recommendation that the PFN should encompass all other modes. Additionally, the PFN does not currently reflect first-and last-mile connections.

Other Business

Environmental Focus

Several subcommittee members had questions regarding how the PDO-SC’s consideration of environmental issues overlaps with the SSE-SC’s consideration of environmental issues. Rayman clarified that the PDO-SC is charged with considering only the environmental review and permitting process as it relates to project delivery whereas the SSE-SC is tasked with examining broader environmental issues (such as environmental justice concerns) that are not necessarily project-specific.

Next Steps

The subcommittee determined that Inman should present the draft recommendations to the NFAC and rely on the other members to respond to questions. Additionally, Schmidt emphasized that moving forward, the subcommittee should produce deliverables if not every meeting, then every other meeting.

Action Items

  • Subcommittee members will review and provide comment on the draft SWOT analysis by December 20
  • DOT staff will receive and consolidate comments on draft SWOT analysis and recirculate by January 9
  • DOT staff will distribute link to the Federal Register where the list of various environmental laws applicable to project delivery is accessible
  • DOT staff will arrange guest speakers as recommended by the subcommittee, pending approval by Tretha Chromey, NFAC DFO

Adjournment

Schmidt thanked the participants and adjourned the meeting at 3:00 p.m. (EST).

Research, Innovation and Technology Subcommittee (RIT-SC)

Subcommittee Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: 11/21/2013

Attendance – Subcommittee Members and DOT Staff 

Name

Affiliation

Terry Button, Co-chair

Independent Drivers Association

Stephen Alterman

Cargo Airline Association

Gen Giuliano

USC Sol Price School

Gary Palmer

True Value Company

John Previsich

SMART

Rosa Navejar

The Rios Group

Ricky Smith

Cleveland Airport

Sabrina Sussman

ITS America (alternate for Randy Iwasaki)

Anne Aylward

RITA-Volpe (alternate for Greg Winfree)

Scott Greene

FRA

Caroline Kotila

OST

Call to Order          

Terry Button, RIT-SC Co-Chair, began the meeting by welcoming the participants and requesting that all participants introduce themselves.  

Background Issues for Consideration

Participants discussed the following contextual/background issues for consideration by the RIT-SC:

  • To make recommendations to NFAC, we must establish a context:
    • What are the issues that the RIT-SC members know about that relate to our assigned modes? (The co-chairs had previously assigned specific modes to individual members to consider RIT in those modes.)
    • Where does RIT-SC fit into these issues?
      • Port issues/considerations/questions:
        • Dredging, capacity, intermodal connections, etc.
        • Port capacity constraints
        • Are there ways we can increase technology to improve port operations and capacity?
      • Air issues/considerations/questions:
      • Managing airport congestion with NextGen technology (NextGen is not a product but an evolutionary process)
      • Officials/authorities must take these issues seriously
      • Technology is about to make a major impact, but funding is a road block
      • We have a research program under way
      • There have been many improvements in air space that may have applicability in the surface transportation modes.
      • It is easy for Congress to ignore research in considering funding, but we need to strongly emphasize that research funding is critically important to move us into the future. 
  • Participants discussed whether the RIT-SC/NFAC is the right context for considering the above issues, or whether these issues are too specific. Participants also discussed whether there is a need to reference the research programs we have funded.
  • Participants discussed the scope of our assignment and task and agreed to keep the scope of the plan to five to 10 years.

Research, Technology, and Challenges

Participants discussed the need for research, use of technology and associated challenges:

  • There is a need for research to improve aircraft design so that regional airlines can handle more cargo at regional airports.
  • There is value in sharing research between government and industry:
    • Aviation programs do this now. For example, the Continuous Lower Emissions, Energy and Noise (CLEEN) Program is half funded by industry and half by government. 
  • The RIT-SC should urge Congress to fund necessary research across all modes. However, research for the sake of research is inefficient and costly; in addition to funding we need a clear, documented path to deploy effective research into operation.
  • Data collection and reporting needs to be timely.  Timelines for producing research are variable; for example: US Department of Transportation (DOT) reports come out in six years whereas private sector reports come out in 12 months.
  • On the technology side, we should advocate for what we think is appropriate and implementable.
  • On the research side, the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) authorized in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), was not continued in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). NCFRP projects produced practical reports on a variety of topics.  NFAC should recommend reactivation of NCFRP.  This could be low-hanging fruit.
  • Positive train control enhances safety and improves efficiency:
    • It has been legislated by Congress, but there are numerous delays with funding.
    • Same goals as other freight modes, increase capacity, improve safety, without massive infrastructure investments.
  • Bottom line: we need funding for research and/or implementation to provide for a clear path for research that leads to an end product.
  • Participants discussed if they feel the NFAC needs to put together a unified comment on the Primary Freight Network and agreed that this is not as connected to the RIT-SC focus as it is to other subcommittees.
  • Need to be aware that not everyone else in NFAC is knowledgeable about the technology available to freight:
  • Is it valuable for our committee to showcase where we are or how far we have come?
  • Participants discussed issues, questions, or considerations to highlight cross-modally:
    • A public education program but also an education program for fellow NFAC members.
    • To secure additional funding for research and technology, we need to demonstrate how prior research funding has benefitted the transportation system. 
    • Short-term recommendation: present to the committee how research and technology have enhanced the productivity/efficiency/safety of the transportation system.
    • Showcase needs to put into context how research and technology investments in the future can enhance the system.
  • Need to be sure that we go beyond just an information technology services (ITS) program to a broader definition of technology.
  • There is a whole set of technology that has to do with information, cleaner information exchanges and processing, streamlined customs activities, practices, etc.
  • Caution that if the SC undertakes a technology demonstration, it might default to hardware applications rather than broader technology applications. 
  • We need to think of research holistically. If you really want to address the world’s problems, it is important to sell the value of research in terms of its ability to address these problems

Other Issues

Participants discussed the following issues/other topics:

  • Highways:
    • Penalties and incentives to make shifts, such as tolling and off-peak deliveries and gate hours.
    • Smaller truck companies may not be able to absorb costs
  • ITS is a much broader concept:
  • Not just hardware investments, also soft investments
  • Can the SC build a comprehensive toolbox?
  • Regarding the Primary Freight Network, there was a fair amount of consensus among participants that  it is not really central to this particular committee
  • Now that we have a draft structure, we need to overlay research and technology to see how it can improve the freight system.
  • We, as a committee, support putting forth recommendations as an NFAC
  • Other ideas for low-hanging fruit and recommendations included:
    • Reconstitute NCFRP
    • Education for other NFAC members on:
      • The type of technology that presently exists to enhance safety and productivity.
      • Potential for a demonstration at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting.
  • Full funding for NextGen technologies and research to implement these technologies
  • Participants noted that while some of proposed ideas were valuable, it might be difficult to navigate the political sphere to implement them (i.e., when the Federal Aviation Administration is going through significant cuts, research gets cut first).
  • The participants discussed the report out to the full NFAC public meeting.  Points mentioned included:
    • Recommend NFAC comment on the Primary Freight Network (but not central to this SC);
    • SC will overlay research and technology onto the NFAC’s mission, values, and goals that the full NFAC worked on over the last two days;
    • Recommend restoring the NCFRP program:
      • Need to restore the NCFRP program that was not continued under MAP-21;
      • This program should be reinstated; we have to show why it is important and the changes it led to;
      • The committee should work towards reinstating it; we will take steps to do the research and make the justifications;
    • We should think about how research will facilitate goals and provide specific examples.

Action Items

  • Determine our research schedule and the information we need in order to accomplish this research.
  • Obtain a list from DOT about the outcomes of today versus where we started.
  • Do the expertise overlay on the new document, not the draft document that we received today.
  • Identify our expertise and experience on items that can be accomplished.

International Freight Strategies and Operations Subcommittee (IFSO-SC)

Subcommittee Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: 11/21/2013

Subcommittee Members and DOT Staff in Attendance

Name

Affiliation

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge

Lambert International Airport

Carlos A. Gimenez

Miami-Dade County

Brad Hildebrand

Cargill, Inc.

Andy Lynn

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Tretha Chromey

OST

Fred Eberhart

OST

Kristine Boswell

OST

Tiffany Julien

FHWA

Subcommittee Members Designees

Name

Affiliation

Designee(s)

Carlos A. Gimenez

Miami-Dade County

Kevin Lynskey

Joe Rasco

Leonard D. Waterworth

Port of Houston Authority

Jessica Druce-Shaver

James Hoffa

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Tim Beaty

Michael Nutter

City of Philadelphia

Rina Cutler

Ex-Officio Members and Meeting Guests

Name

Affiliation

David Long

US Dept of Commerce

Karen Hedlund

US Dept of Transportation – FRA

Don Stanton

US Dept of Defense – OSD

Leslie Blakey

CAGTC

David Ossian Cameron

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Rhonda Hamn-Niebruegge and Mayor Carlos Gimenez formally opened the subcommittee meeting. Members and guests introduced themselves.  Hamn-Niebruegge outlined the specific deliverables for the subcommittee meeting

Primary Freight Network

The Subcommittee (SC) reached consensus that they cannot support the primary freight network due to lack of information. The SC agreed that they would like to see how ports and rails connect to the network in order to provide a sound recommendation.

Subcommittee Recommendations

The SC agreed to put forward the following issues and recommendations to the NFAC members and Freight Policy Council:

  1. Multi-modal improvements on US border-crossings to increase the speed of transit/commerce across the US borders
    1. Process improvements
      1. A review of US Customs and Border Protection regulations on staffing (part-time hires and 24/7 hour staffing)
      2. Use of technologies to speed the movement of goods
  1. Improving the economic competitiveness of the US in the global market
    1. A review of trends affecting the US
      1. Ocean Shipping Trends
        1. Larger ships calling on U.S. East and Gulf Coast due to the Panama Canal expansion and other passage expansions
      2. Rail – Line of demarcation moving closer to the East coast
      3. Rise of alternative fuels and the establishment of new industries
      4. LNG and the mechanism of reverse flows
      5. Military and US Dept of State’s Strategic Pivot to the Pacific
      6. DHS Presidential Policy Directive on Strengthening the Security and Resilience of the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure
    2. Process improvements/establishing efficient distribution systems to ensure the US can move things faster, cheaper that will allow for better product pricing
    3. Trade benchmarking
    4. Long term funding for non-revenue producing but critical infrastructure  (i.e. security improvements)

  1. Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be used for dredging and improving port infrastructure

Other Resources

Through the course of the discussion the following reports and trainings were discussed:

  • Primary Freight Network related resources:
    • Follow-up discussion/briefings
    • Multi-modal freight map
    • Map that shows the US’ priority freight area now and in the future

  • Recommended Subcommittee briefings:
    • Karen Schmidt – Prince Rupert impacts on NE Ports
    • Border Trade Alliance – Key Border Issues
    • U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border
    • U.S.- Mexico – National Economic Dialogue
    • Trade Missions with China and Brazil
    • CBP Freight and Trade Overview

  • Readings and other requested studies
    • Trade Benchmarking – How does the US compare against the rest of the world? What is the cost per country to transport a product per mile? Calculate the cost from manufacturing to point of sale.
      • Rina Cutler advised she can share the research she has about the cost bringing wood pulp either through Philadelphia, New Jersey or Baltimore.
    • US DOT – MARAD’s Panama Canal Expansion Study Phase I (soon to be released)
    • Statistics – Freight projections 20-30 years from now
    • International Best Practices
      • Canada’s Cross Border Strategies and Operations
      • Canada’s Cargo Screening Protocol
      • EU: Germany and Netherlands: Freight Corridor Planning and Freight Policy Planning

Next Meeting

Eberhart reminded the SC about the December 6 joint call with the Conditions, Performance and Data Subcommittee and First and Last Mile Subcommittee. The call will be focused on presentations addressing the identification of the major trade gateways and national freight corridors.

Adjournment

Hamm-Niebruegge and Mayor Gimenez thanked everyone for their input and adjourned the meeting.  

First and Last Mile Subcommittee (FLM-SC)

Subcommittee Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: 11/21/2013

Subcommittee Members and DOT Staff in Attendance

Name

Affiliation

Stacey Hodge, Co-Chair

New York City DOT

Michelle Livingstone, Co-Chair

The Home Depot

John Gray

Association of American Railroads

José Holguín-Veras

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Chris Rodgers

Douglas County, NE/National Association of Counties

Mort Downey, NFAC Vice Chair

Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors

Tretha Chromey, NFAC DFO

DOT-OST

Roger Bohnert

MARAD

Sahar Shirazi

DOT-OST

Spencer Stevens

FHWA

Jennifer Villarreal

RITA-Volpe

Roll Call and Quorum

Co-chair Stacey Hodge called the meeting to order at 2:19 p.m. Hodge conducted a roll call to ensure a quorum of the subcommittee members was achieved.

Primary Freight Network

Hodge explained that the notes from the FLM-SC meeting would be distributed to the FLM-SC and publicly. She underscored the direction from NFAC Chair Ann Schneider about whether the Committee would be interested in making a comment about the Primary Freight Network (PFN).

Co-chair Michelle Livingstone noted that the PFN will be the first one. She noted that on Tuesday, November 19th, the FLM-SC discussed the PFN and the subcommittee’s desire to make a comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Subcommittee members believed that it is unclear where warehouses are located and the map about the PFN could be more comprehensive. Livingstone asked that the FLM-SC discuss what the subcommittee would specifically like to see included in the map.

Subcommittee members identified the following items to add to the map:

  • 70,000 bridges in need of repair
  • Metropolitan components
  • Critical highway based on where activity is happening, not just those on the interstate system
  • Intermodal connectors, connections to logistics centers and manufacturing centers
  • Rails and ports

Roger Bohnert, of the U.S. DOT, noted that an important consideration will be whether funding policies are put in place to ensure that freight reaches its destination.

Several members underscored the importance of having access to the data upon which the map is based in order to be well-informed before giving a recommendation. Bohnert also emphasized the importance of using the most recent data available; some of the data used for the PFN is outdated.

Subcommittee members also expressed their concern over the fact that several parts of the system were absent, including most of the urban connectors and non-interstate networks, inland waterways, as well as freight origin and destination.

Tax Exemption for Municipal Bonds

Chris Rodgers brought up the issue of the tax exemption on municipal bonds. Specifically, he noted that limitations on this tax exemption would make it difficult for them to fund projects. Even an increase of 2% would not be feasible for local communities.

Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund

Subcommittee members agreed that it would be important to use funds from the Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund (HMTF) to dredge. Dredging will become even more important because of the Panama Canal Extension and the need to dredge to 55 feet for Panamax ships. Dredging requires certain equipment and it also takes time. For example, one subcommittee member noted that it could take two year to dredge the Miami port. One subcommittee member highlighted the need for continuous dredging and that it should not just be a one-time event.

Bohnert underscored the fact that cargo moving through ports generates money, for example at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. He also recommended investment in conducting studies on where to dredge.

Action Items

The FLM-SC discussed upcoming actions, including:

  • Ask for an extension to December 15th in order to gather additional data and comment on the PFN.
  • Develop a work plan by mid-December.
  • Coordinate an in-person get-together at TRB.
  • Convene in Memphis in early 2014.
  • Give recommendations by May 2014.

Current Needs

The FLM-SC wrapped up the meeting by summarizing their immediate needs, which are outlined below.

  • Acquire better data for the PFN to make more informed decisions. Develop a more comprehensive PFN that includes more than just highway. Ask for at least an extra 15 days for NPRM.
  • Support maintaining the tax exemption for municipal bonds because, without the tax exemption, it will be difficult for local communities to fund projects.
  • Use funds from the HMTF to dredge. Recommend using half of the HMTF. Prioritize where there is a benefit to the community to create jobs and opportunity.
  • Aggressively pursue the development of corridors for access to highways, intermodal terminals and manufacturing or industrial centers, including the development of strategies for mitigating impacts on surrounding communities.

Adjournment         

The meeting adjourned at 3:12 p.m.

Appendix 2: Final Resolutions

Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014