“Freight infrastructure is critical to our future growth and competitiveness,” said Congressman Smith. “Investments in our freight transportation system support our continued economic development by expanding our capacity to transport goods and providing opportunities for job creation across the country.”
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, passed by Congress in 2015, supports regionally significant freight and highway projects with funds distributed through a grant program and formula funding. The Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act (FIRA) of 2017 will expand upon the investments of the FAST Act by creating a sustainable national freight discretionary grant program supported by a dedicated funding source.
With the creation of a National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund, FIRA will administer strategic grants for infrastructure projects across our national freight mobility network. Funded through a minimal one percent fee on the shipment of freight cargo, this program will invest in freight projects that improve the efficiency, capacity, and safety of our freight mobility system. FIRA will support projects like the construction of highway ramps to carry freight, the reinforcement of roads and bridges for heavier traffic and vehicle volume, the improvement of marine terminals facilities used for freight, and the expansion of rail and highway tunnels to accommodate increased cargo.
“Our economy depends on an efficient network of ports, roads and railroads,” said Dick Marzano, co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This proposal will provide our nation an economic boost by enabling much-needed investments in the US freight system. We appreciate Rep. Smith’s leadership and consistent advocacy for freight.”
“Investments in freight movement are critical to the success of our ports,” said Kristin Meira, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. “Congressman Smith’s bill would provide a much needed funding source to support cargo movement in the Northwest, one of the most trade dependent regions in the nation. We appreciate his dedication to ensuring our region's continued success in the global marketplace.”
“While the FAST Act’s freight-focused INFRA program provided a first step in addressing multimodal freight needs, much more is needed, as evidenced by the program’s oversubscription: in its initial round, applicants requested $13 for every $1 available,” said Elaine Nessle, Executive Director of Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors. “Congressman Smith’s proposed freight mobility infrastructure fee and National Freight Mobility Infrastructure Fund could provide the next iteration of funding for critical freight projects.”
The Freight Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2017 has been cosponsored by Representatives Albio Sires and Keith Ellison. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for further consideration.