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Improving Efficiency of Highway Freight Transportation is Goal of DOT Process

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration is accepting comments through Dec. 19 onits draft initial designation of the highway primary freight network. Comments are also invited on the designation of critical rural freight corridors and the  establishment of the National Freight Network, which comprises the PFN, the CRFCs and the portions of the interstate system not designated as part of the highway PFN. The DOT was directed to establish the NFN by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21stCentury Act (MAP–21) to assist states in strategically directing resources toward improved system performance for the efficient movement of freight on the highway portion of the U.S. freight transportation system. The DOT anticipates completing this task by the end of 2014.

MAP-21 limits the highway PFN to not more than 27,000 centerline miles of existing roadways that are most critical to the movement of freight, with allowance for an additional 3,000 centerline miles (which may include existing or planned roads) critical to the future efficient movement of goods on the highway PFN. However, the methodology used by the DOT resulted in a comprehensive map of 41,518 centerline miles. The DOT subsequently made adjustments to come up with a map of 26,966 miles but states that this draft results in an unconnected network with major gaps in the system, including components of the global and domestic supply chains.

The details of the draft initial highway PFN, including the 26,966-mile map (which is only one option of many the DOT could choose to designate as the highway PFN), the 41,518-mile map (showing the connected network the DOT would prefer to designate if it were not constrained by statute), state maps and lists of designated routes, tables of mileage by state, and information regarding intermodal connectors and border crossings can be found here. The DOT is seeking comments on the routes identified, including specific roadways that should be included or removed. Comments are also being accepted on the proposed approach and methodology to achieve a 27,000 mile network, considering such questions as connectivity, the treatment of urban area mileage and the concept of a critical urban freight corridor process, the inclusion of border crossings of a certain level of truck volume, corridor-level designation, and the adequacy of the network to identify bottlenecks and other freight infrastructure or operational needs.

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