Primary Freight Network

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) funds surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-2014. MAP-21 is the first long-term highway authorization enacted since 2005 and represents a milestone for the nation’s economy.

MAP-21 includes a number of provisions designed to enhance freight movement in support of national goals of improving the condition and performance of a National Freight Network. As the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) works in consultation with partners and stakeholders, including the California Freight Advisory Committee (CFAC) to identify the Primary Freight Network (PFN) and developing a national freight strategic plan, CAPA maintains the following principles:

The PFN should include first and last mile connectors to all trade gateways including every port and all national freight corridors –
The methodology used for arriving at the initial PFN designation should be adjusted to include the first and last mile connections to priority freight facilities. Adjustments should also include additional flexibility and collaboration with state, regional and local stakeholders in prioritizing segments of the PFN.

The National Freight Network (NFN) should fit into a Multimodal National Freight System –
CAPA supports the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) suggestions for a more comprehensive corridor-based approach to the PFN to allow for the designation of parallel routes in regions, and suggests that this process should include adjacent rail lines, intermodal facilities, and critical arterial routes serving transfer facilities.

Suggestions for an Urban Area Route Designation Process –
With significant and increasing demand for area warehousing and facilities for consolidation, processing, packaging, transloading, and assembly, urban area route designation is an important element of the PFN. These critical activities do not generally take place in facilities on the PFN, but rather at facilities located near the PFN that are accessed by local roads. We support the creation of a formalized process for designating critical urban freight routes, including first and last miles and intermodal connectors. As previously mentioned, we believe that regional and local stakeholders are best positioned to identify and prioritize these routes, especially given the limitation of national data. In parallel to the critical rural freight designation process, we strongly recommend establishing a formalized process to ensure that Metropolitan Planning Organizations and their local stakeholders, representing major gateways, ports and trade hubs, are consulted with, in addition to State Departments of Transportation, in designating critical urban freight routes.

How the National Freight Network and Components Could Be Used in the Future –
Although we are encouraged by the identification of a tangible national interest in freight, as expressed for the first time in MAP-21, absent related funding to address freight needs, the designation of the PFN may have little practical effect. Limited capacity within existing transportation funding programs currently exists to address freight-related programs and projects. We recommend that dedicated funding be made available to support projects that enhance the performance and efficiency of a revised PFN and NFN, and that funding also be made available to mitigate adverse impacts of freight movement on local communities.

The modest funding for the Projects of National and Regional Significance (PNRS), provided by MAP-21, should be enhanced and funding to support a more comprehensive multimodal PFN should be pursued. Past efforts should be leveraged, as well, and the freight corridor designations and related funding program established under the PNRS should be expanded.