The Department of Transportation is requesting no later than Feb. 10 comments to aid in the development of a National Freight Strategic Plan. A draft plan was released in October 2015.

The DOT estimates that domestic freight tonnage will increase by 44 percent between 2015 and 2045, which will place increasing strain on the freight system. Today that system moves about 18 billion tons of freight every year across all modes, but congestion has been increasing, particularly on highways. Other changes include an increase in rail shipments of crude oil, increases in domestic energy production, and the rapid growth of air cargo, which is particularly important for high-value commodities.

In light of these and other trends, the NFSP must include the following elements.

- an assessment of the conditions and performance of the national multimodal freight network

- an identification of bottlenecks on that network that create significant freight congestion

- forecasts of freight volumes for the succeeding 5-, 10-, and 20-year periods

- an identification of major trade gateways and national freight corridors

- an assessment of statutory, regulatory, technological, institutional, financial, and other barriers to improved freight transportation performance, including a description of opportunities for overcoming these barriers

- a process for addressing multistate projects and encouraging jurisdictions to collaborate

- strategies to improve freight intermodal connectivity

- an identification of corridors providing access to energy exploration, development, installation or production areas

- an identification of corridors providing access to major areas for manufacturing, agriculture, or natural resources

- an identification of best practices for improving the performance of the national multimodal freight network

- an identification of best practices to mitigate the impacts of freight movement on communities

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