In a much-needed first, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today unveiled a national strategic plan to smooth the $52 billion-a-day freight delivery system and eliminate bottlenecks that can slow the shipments of energy, food, and even packages from Amazon, Walmart, and Target.
With the first-ever National Freight Strategic Plan, she put the government’s focus on improving the nation’s infrastructure, a key promise from President Trump, to keep the economy humming.
“The department is unveiling the first-ever National Freight Strategic Plan so that the U.S. can maintain our competitive edge across major industries like agriculture, manufacturing, energy production, and e-commerce,” Chao said.
The plan is a broad blueprint to coordinate infrastructure improvement plans and freight shipping strategies with the federal government, states, and towns. It is also part of a larger infrastructure plan that has already directed money to rural parts of the nation in a bid to get their projects up to date with urban areas.
The 14-page plan highlighted several goals, including improving safety and clearing bottlenecks on highways, at airports, and in ports used by freight shippers. It will be used to make future planning and spending decisions.
It also promoted future innovation to speed the movement of products, including through the use of drones.
Several industry leaders, including shippers Amazon, Walmart, and Target, were consulted.
It came as the coronavirus has millions of Americans working and shopping from home, boosting the commerce moving on trucks, planes, trains, and ships.
The network the plan is aimed at is huge. DOT said that every day shippers move more than 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $52 billion “on highways, railways, ports and inland waterways, pipelines, and airports.”
The department added, “The growth in freight demand due to increasing use of e-commerce and global supply chains in recent years has strained our freight system, and could threaten the competitive advantage of American businesses. As these supply chains continue to spread across the world, America’s ability to compete could be limited by inadequate infrastructure and a lack of preparation for incorporating innovative technologies.”
A department official said, “Our focus is on helping shippers get their goods to market,” and added, “the goal is to modernize, end duplicative regulations, and coordinate with states and local officials to build a national network.”