"Our nation's freight transportation system plays a significant role in our ability to grow the economy and compete globally," said Rep. Smith. "With our nation's freight expected to double by 2040, it is critical to start making investments in freight and transportation infrastructure now to keep America competitive internationally for years to come."
FIRA would establish the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Improvement Program through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) that would provide competitive grants to states and designated entities to improve the efficiency and capacity of freight networks. These entities would work in collaboration with their communities to identify projects of national or regional significance and apply for the grants. The secretary of transportation would award funds based on the project's ability to improve freight infrastructure, cost effectiveness and its economic impact.
"Our multimodal freight transportation system is a national asset that we have failed to appreciate and support. Nowhere is this need more pressing than in the freight system that provides for our nation's commerce," said Port of Tacoma Commissioner Don Meyer. "Without strategic corridor investments to expand capacity and increase efficiency, U.S. productivity and global competitiveness will suffer, costs will increase and investment will lag. We applaud Rep. Smith's efforts to make this vision of strategic freight mobility a reality."
The legislation would fund these competitive grants through a user fee on the shipment of freight cargo within the United States. The fee would be one percent of the total cost of transport and all the fees collected would go directly to the National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund, a dedicated source of funding for freight mobility improvement projects.
The bill has been cosponsored by Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ-8), Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) and Janice Hahn (D-CA-44) and has now been sent to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further consideration.