Improving the Nation’s Highway Freight Network
Summary of Subject Matter
Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI)
February 27, 2014
Today’s hearing will focus on how we can improve the Nation’s highway freight network. The current federal surface transportation authorization, MAP-21, expires on September 30th of this year. As the Committee begins its work on drafting the successor to MAP-21, we must understand how we can improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the Nation’s highway freight network.
The safe and efficient movement of freight throughout the United States directly impacts the day-to-day lives of every American. Basic necessities, such as food and clothing, rely on many modes of the freight transportation system to reach consumers. American businesses rely on an efficient, safe, reliable freight system to move their goods to domestic and international markets.
The Nation’s highway system is an essential part of the broader freight transportation system. Not every community is located adjacent to a railroad, airport, waterway, or port, but consumer goods are almost invariably transported along the Nation’s four million miles of highways and roads for at least part of the journey. Furthermore, first- and last-mile connections to other modes of transportation are almost always made on the highway system.
In 2011, the U.S. transportation system moved nearly 18 billion tons of goods, valued at almost $17 trillion. However, each day traffic on approximately 12,000 miles of the highway system slow below posted speed limits, and an additional 7,000 miles experience stop-and-go conditions. In addition, America’s reliance on the highway system is growing faster than the system itself. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that in the next 30 years, there will be 60 percent more freight that must be moved across the Nation.
MAP-21 laid the foundation for a significant federal focus on freight mobility. Specifically, MAP-21 set national freight policy by delineating specific goals related to freight mobility. MAP-21 also required the Secretary of Transportation to designate a national freight network and establish a strategic plan to meet the goals stipulated in the national freight policy. Finally, MAP-21 encouraged the creation of state freight advisory committees and the development of state freight plans.
MAP-21 is set to expire on September 30. Ensuring the safe, efficient, and reliable movement of goods is a priority for this Subcommittee in the reauthorization bill.