In latest of a series of articles of the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative,  Adie Tomer and Joseph Kane, assert it’s time for a national freight investment program.   Read the article at this link:  Yes, it is time!

Tomer and Kane noted that this as the basis for the need:  “The foundation of this proposal is recognizing where goods flow. Based on our research, 80 percent of U.S. goods either start or end in the 100 largest metro areas, leading to an immense concentration of freight activity. Meanwhile, major rural producers like Iowa or Wyoming rely on large metro areas to purchase their goods and move them elsewhere.”

Their observations are true, but one impact that they do not emphasize is the pressure to increase highways to accommodate the increasing truck traffic to carry the freight.  Basically, the railroads are treating the freight corridors as bridges between metro areas and ports, and are neglecting service to intermediate cities.   Proposals of Rail Solution under the umbrella of the Steel Interstate have included concepts for better integrating rail and highways into combined service corridors to serve entire corridors— not just the ends of them.

The present methods of planning and funding projects fall way short of allowing the development of integrated rail and highway freight corridors.   This is due to the emphasis on state highway planning and weak integration of state efforts over long corridors and very weak integration with railroads.   For example, nobody really looks at how to integrate the planning of I-40/I-75/I-81 interstate and Norfolk Southern rail into one coherent rational system.  This is an inadequacy that should be addressed by the Congress.

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