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Washington Review June 4, 2013

Jun 4, 2013
Washington Review

This District Work Period, I traveled to Southern California with members of the “Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation” to learn about how freight transportation challenges on the West Coast impact the entire nation. The Freight Panel, composed of 9 members from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was formed by leaders of the Transportation Committee as a special subcommittee charged with identifying ways to improve our nation’s freight transportation systems. During their visit to California, this Panel held roundtables, discussions, hearings, and on-site visits with industry stakeholders. 

At our roundtable discussion and hearing, the Freight Panel received testimony expressing the various ways in which Southern California’s freight transportation challenges impact our nation and our competitiveness in a global economy. We heard from representatives of the California Department of Transportation, Southern California Association of Governments, Fox Transportation, and Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority. Moving freight efficiently is vital to the health of our nation’s economy. Southern California, where about 75 percent of all goods coming through the ports are transported around the nation, is a perfect example of the need to craft sound federal policy affecting the movement of goods.

In the coming years, we expect to see an exponential growth in goods movement.  Unless Congress takes swift action, this projected growth, paired with an antiquated freight system, could spell trouble not only for our national economy, but particularly for New Jersey’s 8th District, which receives a significant portion of the regions shipped goods.

This year, I introduced legislation that I believe provides common sense solutions for our freight network: the Multimodal Opportunities via Enhanced Freight Act, or the MOVE Freight Act. This bill would ensure all forms of transportation are accounted for in our national freight policy, mandate the creation of state freight plans, and create a National Freight Infrastructure Investment Grants program which would support freight rail improvement, port development,  intelligent transportation systems, and other projects to improve goods movement. This policy would greatly benefit New Jersey, California and the United States as a whole.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with stakeholders and to get insight into what Congress can do to work toward improving the efficiency, safety, and security of the movement of goods through our port, rail, highway, airway, and waterway networks. The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation is currently planning a site visit to the East Coast this summer.