If we are going to reignite the engine of the American economy, our nation's businesses must be able to compete effectively. And the ability to ship and receive freight as quickly, safely, and affordably as possible is essential to that competitiveness.
That's why today we're taking two significant steps forward to improve how we move commercial goods: forming a National Freight Advisory Committee and a National Freight Network.
The goods our businesses produce and the materials that go into those goods travel over an extensive transportation network that includes highways, railroads, waterways, pipelines, and airways. While specific commodities are likely to favor one particular mode, a significant portion of the freight moved throughout the nation travels on more than one form of transportation to reach its final destination.
If we want our economy to continue growing, we need to move increasing volumes of freight. And that means we need a more comprehensive system of arteries with smoother connections, more efficient transfer points, and planning that integrates our different modes of transportation.
The recent transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, signed by President Obama in July 2012, established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan. By providing recommendations aimed at improving the national freight transportation system, the National Freight Advisory Committee will help us do exactly that.
In addition to lending their expertise, the diverse body of stakeholders on the advisory committee will also help promote industry involvement and compliance with proposed plans and performance measures. An effective advisory committee can help us get the U.S. freight community--with all its varied interests--on the same page.
And when all the cylinders of our freight industry are firing brightly and in synch with each other, that's good for American businesses, and it's good for consumers.
We're seeking nominations for the committee right now; to nominate someone or learn more, please visit the National Freight Advisory Committee.
Designating a national freight network will help us better focus attention on the highways that are most critical to the movement of goods, and is another way we can improve shipping.
Ask any commercial driver, and he or she will tell you that some of the roadways they use most often need serious upgrades. Our truck drivers face a maze of routes punctuated by significant chokepoints--whether they're caused by a volume of vehicles that exceed a highway's capacity or by conditions that cause vehicles to slow down unexpectedly.
So we'll chart a primary network of up to 27,000 miles of exiting interstates and other roads. And we'll consider adding as many as 3,000 more miles in the future if that's what it takes to help our truckers deliver the goods.
Freight is the lifeblood that fuels our economy, and the roads, rails, waterways, and airways we use to ship that freight are the economy's important arteries. We cannot afford to ignore the condition of those arteries, and the steps we take today—creating a National Freight Advisory Committee and a National Freight Network--demonstrate once again the Obama Administration's commitment to good economic health.