The five-year, $305 billion highway bill that was signed into law earlier this month has at long last elevated the interests of logistics and freight shipping companies and their customers.
Although it is not perfect, the bill allocates significant attention and financial support to the freight-moving industry, and that is a first. Consider:
- More than $11 billion in highway and non-highway funding to improve the way freight is moved in and around the U.S.
- A multimodal freight policy
- A DOT-established multimodal network that prioritizes the most critical segments of the national freight-moving system.
- New safety requirements for railroads shipping crude oil and other hazmat cargo
- A pilot program meant to help alleviate the shortage of long-haul truck drivers by allowing younger drivers, 18- 21, to take trucks across state lines.
- A program to monitor port freight-handling efficiency.
In response, industry advocates said the bill will “increase the efficiency and reliability” of the nation’s logistics network. Others across the industry praised the work of legislators for the reach of the bill, said they are pleased with the outcome and called the bill a win for consumers, shippers and the economy.
Maybe most significant is that the logistics and freight-moving industries have finally been recognized in a federal transportation bill. We see the possibility of a path being paved to future funding of large, complicated freight projects that were once stymied and delayed because they cross many jurisdictions.
Like all legislation, the Highway Bill is a compromise, but it recognizes more than ever that there is need for a long-term plan and strategy to ensure the safe and efficient flow of goods.
For logistics and freight shipping companies and their customers this fresh approach represents an important step in the right direction.
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