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Draft Multimodal Freight Network a Step Toward Improving System Performance

Monday, June 06, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Transportation has established an interim National Multimodal Freight Network and is inviting comments through Sept. 6 to help inform the final NMFN that will be designated by Dec. 4. The NMFN is intended to assist states in strategically directing resources toward improved system performance for the efficient movement of freight, inform freight transportation planning, assist in the prioritization of federal investment, and assess and support federal investments.

As directed by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015, the interim NMFN includes the following components.

- the National Highway Freight Network, which currently includes the Primary Highway Freight System and portions of the interstate system not designated as part of the PHFS, totaling 51,029 miles (critical rural and urban freight corridors may also be included but none have yet been designated)

- the freight rail systems of Class I railroads, totaling 95,200 route miles

- the freight rail lines of Class II and Class III railroads, totaling 9,096 route miles

- 113 public ports that have total annual foreign and domestic trade of at least two million short tons, plus another three designated as strategic ports by the Department of Defense

- routes critical to interstate commerce that encompass any rail connections to included ports

- navigable waterways used to transport domestic and international freight, including inland and intracoastal waterways as well as the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and coastal and open ocean routes along which domestic freight is transported, totaling approximately 26,000 miles

- the 50 U.S. airports with the highest annual landed weight, plus six included as critical to the movement of interstate commerce

The final NMFN will aim to improve network and intermodal connectivity and to use measurable data as part of the assessment of the significance of freight movement, including consideration of points of origin, destinations, and linking components of domestic and international supply chains. It must reflect consideration of numerous factors, including volume and value of freight; access to border crossings, airports, seaports and pipelines; economic factors, including balance of trade; access to major areas for manufacturing, agriculture or natural resources; intermodal links that promote connectivity; freight choke points and other impediments; facilities and transportation corridors identified as having critical freight importance to a region; and the significance of goods movement, including consideration of global and domestic supply chains.

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