A Senate panel approved measures that would create the nation’s first freight policy act, under which investment would be targeted to freight projects that increase economic competitiveness, improve mobility and promote energy conservation.
The Senate Commerce Committee’s action Wednesday also moves a two-year transportation reauthorization bill closer to a floor vote.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the freight program he proposed recognizes “the importance of efficiently and safely moving goods” in order to keep businesses competitive and create jobs.
“The fundamental infrastructure, highway infrastructure, was done in the 1950s,” Lautenberg said. “We were 170 million people in this country. We’re now 310 million people . . . and the infrastructure is wobbly, shaky, and unsafe in many areas.”
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) tried unsuccessfully to kill the proposed freight program, saying the trucking industry was concerned that money could be diverted from the federal Highway Trust Fund to projects that could include freight movement on other modes.