On February 26, President Obama unveiled an outline for his Administration’s first-ever surface transportation authorization proposal totaling $302 billion over four years and using a combination of highway trust fund revenues and corporate tax reform proceeds to pay for it. Among the bill’s top-line items is the creation of a multimodal freight grant program with $2.5 billion per year in funds available for rail, highway, and port projects that “address the greatest needs for the efficient movement of goods across the country and abroad.” The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) applauds the Administration’s vision for improving our multimodal freight network to support American businesses and our national competitiveness in the world marketplace.

CAGTC has long advocated for a freight-specific grant program that awards funding through the use of merit-based criteria that identifies and prioritizes projects with a demonstrable contribution to national freight efficiency. Freight projects are typically large-scale, frequently multimodal and cross jurisdictional borders, making them difficult to fund through traditional distribution methods such as formula programs.

“Southern California’s 18 million residents who our 191 member cities represent, applaud President Obama and his Administration for recognizing the linkage between efficient freight movement and our nation’s ability to compete in the global marketplace. Our region has one of the highest employment levels related to efficient logistics and manufacturing in the United States,” said Sharon Neely, CAGTC Chairman and Deputy Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments. “Accelerating ways to reduce truck traffic and ensure goods to market both locally and nationally would result in eliminating lost productivity time and wasted fuel. A multimodal, freight-specific grant program does not just invest in our transportation infrastructure, it invests in American businesses, creates jobs and facilitates global trade.”

Announced in conjunction with a new, 6th round of TIGER competitive grants now open to applications, the President’s proposal also codifies and increases funding for the TIGER program. Freight has historically competed well against other types of transportation projects eligible under the program’s broad scope, claiming 47 percent of funding throughout the previous five rounds. The consistent success of freight projects in TIGER awards further demonstrates, as the Administration is proposing, that a freight-only grant program is necessary to address the growing volume of freight megaprojects across the country.

“The President’s proposal recognizes the prospects for investments in our national freight assets as a strategy for economic growth, jobs and opportunity,” said CAGTC Founding Chairman Mort Downey. “CAGTC has been making this case for years and we look forward to working with the Congress to turn this idea into funded, multi-year, competitive projects to enhance the efficiency of goods movement.”