DOT Says Freight ‘Hierarchy’ Favors Water, Rail

The Department of Transportation’s second-highest official recently told senators that DOT’s preference for freight shipping is to keep goods on waterways and rail as much as possible, getting them away from trucks except for the final delivery.

Deputy Secretary John Porcari made the remarks before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, in a March 24 hearing on use of transportation policy to improve energy security and the environment.

Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., asked Porcari whether the concept of DOT’s discretionary “TIGER” grant program could work in the next multi-year surface transportation bill. That $1.5 billion pool of stimulus funds allowed DOT to send grants to multi-modal projects that cross state lines, instead of disbursing money under state-allocation formulas or for specific transport modes.

Porcari said that “in our goods movement hierarchy -- where we want to keep goods movement on water as long as possible, and then on rail as long as possible and truck it for the last miles -- it’s a big step forward.”

He also said “I think the TIGER grants point the way to the future in intermodal transportation.” The largest category of awards, Porcari said, “was freight rail capacity projects, which have a number of environmental benefits including reduced fuel consumption but also take some of the goods movement off the highway network and move it through more efficient modes.”

Those comments follow similar remarks by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood in an interview with The Journal of Commerce.

LaHood said DOT policy has “paid a lot of attention to the freight rail companies” to both expand passenger train service and draw freight off highways. “We’ve made a huge investment in their opportunity to build capacity,” he said. And the DOT is working with ports “again, to take trucks off the road and to really utilize the marine highways.”

Source: Journal of Commerce


The Soy Transportation Coalition is comprised of seven state soybean boards, the American Soybean Association, and the United Soybean Board. The National Grain and Feed Association and the National Oilseed Processors Association serve as ex-officio members of the organization.