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A Federal Role in Freight Planning and Finance

A Federal Role in Freight Planning and Finance

Sandra Rosenbloom
Martin Wachs
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 102
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Federal Role in Freight Planning and Finance
    Book Description:

    This monograph describes a federal freight policy designed to address growing challenges faced by the U.S. freight network in an environment dominated by declining revenues and public resistance to increasing taxes. The strategy emphasizes disaggregating project costs and benefits by location, stakeholder, and level of government and requiring identifiable beneficiaries to pay a share of project costs proportionate to the benefits they receive.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7749-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Transportation Studies, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
    Johanna Zmud
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    There is widespread consensus that there are serious problems in the U.S. supply chain network that threaten the nation’s economy and productivity; the most prominent of these is congestion. There is also consensus that traditional revenue sources are both inadequate and inappropriate to respond to these problems. Because congestion has multiple causes and the costs of congestion are experienced largely by local stakeholders, it is difficult to identify a clear national role in addressing freight congestion and related problems.

    In response to these problems, this monograph describes four elements of a federal freight policy designed to address growing challenges faced...

  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Both domestic and international trade volumes have grown substantially over the past four decades and are likely to increase even more in the coming ones (Weatherford, Willis, and Ortiz, 2008). As a result of this growth in trade, a National Cooperative Freight Research program (NCFRP) report (2009) concluded that U.S. freight volumes will grow by 90 percent between 2004 and 2030, while international trade alone will quadruple by 2035 (U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2008a). Although the rapid growth of trade and freight volumes has been temporarily interrupted by the severe worldwide economic downturn, most observers expect trade volumes to...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Background
    (pp. 7-10)

    A number of factors together place unprecedented demands on all elements of the U.S. freight network. Freight volume has increased with population and economic growth (even in the recent economic downturn); moreover, there has been substantial growth in international trade as well. Truck traffic on the nation’s highways is projected to double by 2030, while waterborne shipments will increase by almost a fourth (NCFRP, 2009).

    Moreover the nature of the national (and international) supply chain network has changed dramatically over the past 40 years. Today, global supply chains are managed using sophisticated technological links, freight facilities are often automated and...

  10. CHAPTER THREE What Is the Federal Role in Freight Transportation?
    (pp. 11-40)

    The overwhelming majority of problems in the nation’s freight network occur at the local level, and most costs are largely borne locally. This means that addressing congestion will likely create substantial local benefits, even if some benefits will spill over to adjacent jurisdictions or even the nation as a whole. Given the complicated causes of freight congestion and other problems in the supply chain system, and the major involvement of the private sector, what responsibility does the federal government have for freight issues?

    To most stakeholders, freight problems seem to be the least important federal transportation issues—they get little...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Four Major Elements of a Suggested Federal Freight Transportation Policy
    (pp. 41-62)

    Over the past decade, many analysts and stakeholders have called for a new or expanded national freight policy that meets some or all of six important, and often crosscutting, goals or objectives: improving freight planning efforts, providing federal assistance to appropriate freight projects using sustainable revenue sources, conditioning federal assistance on measurable performance criteria, requiring projects to have a substantial user-pay component, reforming inappropriate regulations, and responding to market failures such as externalities. This monograph suggests four policy elements of a national freight policy that respond to these commonly agreed-on policy goals:

    Develop a federal capital freight assistance program using...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Paying for It All
    (pp. 63-68)

    Table 5.1 summarizes potential direct and indirect user-related revenue sources that could fund the suggested federally supported activities in all four elements of the freight strategy. Table 5.1 focuses only on how the federal government could obtain funds to support those activities (although it may have relevance for other levels of government). It would be the responsibility of state and local recipients to fund their shares of specific projects, relying on a variety of direct user fees, if appropriate, as well as contributions from private beneficiaries.

    The advantage of the four-step BCA of Element 1 is that it indicates the...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Summary and Conclusions
    (pp. 69-72)

    There are new, different, and growing demands on the U.S. freight network that threaten the productivity and competiveness of the American economy. Many stakeholders and analysts believe that there is a need for a more focused and expanded federal role in freight transportation, but they do not agree on the details, including how that federal response should be funded. It is no longer possible to rely on traditional sources of revenue for many parts of the nation’s transportation network, particularly for U.S. highways and intermodal facilities. This leaves two crucial gaps: the first between freight demand and needed infrastructure, and...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 73-82)