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Talking Freight

Freight Elements of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)

December 14, 2011

Jennifer Symoun
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is the Freight Elements of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21.

Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.

Today we'll have three presenters - Tony Furst of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations, Leo Penne of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and Darrin Roth of the American Trucking Associations.

Tony Furst is Director of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations. He directs a multi-level staff, which develops freight policy for FHWA; provides data analysis and decision-support tools for transportation professionals evaluating freight projects; develops and promulgates professional capacity building programs and training for freight professionals; provides the truck size and weight program guidance and interpretation; and evaluates and promotes freight technology development for national and international deployment.

Leo Penne is the Program Director for Freight Transportation and Economic Development with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). He manages AASHTO's committees on rail, maritime, trucking, and intermodal transportation. Mr. Penne is responsible for issues involving freight transportation by all modes and for liaison with industries having significant interests in freight movement and transportation infrastructure. Penne is also responsible for developing and communicating the case for the economic benefits of transportation.

Darrin Roth is the Director of Highway Operations with the American Trucking Associations, where he has worked since 1996. He serves as the staff manager for ATA's Highway Policy Committee. The committee has responsibility for setting the association's policy on, among other issues, trucking industry user fees, highway condition and performance, truck size and weight, and ensuring truck access to a national highway network.

Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. If we run out of time and are unable to address all questions we will attempt to get written responses from the presenters to the unanswered questions.

The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. The presentations will also be available online within the next few weeks, along with a recording and a transcript. I will notify all attendees once these materials are posted online.

One final note: Talking Freight seminars are eligible for 1.5 certification maintenance credits for AICP members. In order to obtain credit for today's seminar, you must have logged in with your first and last name or if you are attending with a group of people you must type your first and last name into the chat box. I have included more detailed instructions in the file share box on how to obtain your credits after the seminar. Please also download the evaluation form from the file share box and submit this form to me after you have filled it out.

We're now going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is Measuring Freight Performance. As a reminder, if you have questions during the presentation please type them into the chat box and they will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar. Our first presenter will be Tony Furst of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations.

Tony Furst
Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, everybody, for attending today. We would like to walk you through what we have seen in the senate EPW Bill regarding the next authorization. There are a lot of elements in it that point to another leg up for the freight program. It follows along the trend line that we have seen in ISTEA, TEA-21, and SAFETEA-LU where freight continues to advance and make its presence felt in these national pieces of legislation.

In the first slide, I will walk you through the keystone piece of this bill as far as freight is concerned, which is the National Freight Program and a lot of the elements in it. Right in the beginning, within the content of the National Freight Program it states "it is the policy of the United States to improve the condition and performance of the national freight network to ensure that the national freight network provides a foundation for the U.S. to compete in the global economy and achieve the goals described below." This is as close as we have gotten to a national freight policy so far. It goes on to state that "the Secretary shall establish and implement a national freight program in accordance with the section to strategically direct Federal resources toward improved system performance for efficient movement of freight on the highways, including the national highway system freight intermodal connectors." Again, the idea is we're going to establish a policy and strategically direct Federal resources in support of that policy.

The National Freight Network is composed of three elements. You have the primary freight network, which I will get to in a minute; the portions of the interstate system that are not designated as part of the primary freight network; and the critical rural freight corridors, which the states will be able to establish in accordance with the criteria that is laid out within the bill itself. The primary freight network needs to be designated by the Secretary and can be composed up to 27,000 miles of existing roadways critical to freight movement. It doesn't say they have to be interstate; they're simply roadways that are critical to freight movement. It could be off- interstate roadways. We have the ability to add up to 3,000 miles of roadways, existing or planned, that could be critical to future goods movement. Again, we're not constrained to existing interstate. The way it reads in the legislation is that we may include the 3,000 miles but there is no requirement that we do so. The primary freight network is to be designated and then re-designated every ten years, starting in 2015. The idea is goods movement changes, but it doesn't change at an extraordinarily rapid pace. Giving us 10 years of breathing space in between the designations of the primary freight network allows us to adapt the system based upon what we see going forward and it gives the authority to change the 3,000 miles. A lot of the work that we have been doing in NCHRP on scenario planning-for those of you at the freight partnership meeting, you have a taste of what we're doing in that area-will help us think through what we will look at for future goods movement.

The rural freight corridors are designated by the states. The thresholds are set within the legislation itself, and the states can spend up to 20% of the money for those rural freight corridors. The funding in the national freight apportioned funds must be directed toward the primary freight network first and foremost. The primary freight network must receive of apportioned funds under the program, either all of it or the lesser of the amount of the primary freight network in its relationship to the rest of the interstate system in the state, times a factor in the legislation. If, for example, the state received about $50 million in apportioned funds under this program and 10% of their interstate system was designated as primary freight network, then they would allocate $5.5 million to the primary freight network. That changes based upon the percentage of primary freight network in each State. The objective and the idea is that the monies would be pushed toward the primary freight network, first and foremost, and then flesh out the rest of the national freight network.

For funding eligible projects, the state must demonstrate that the improvement made by the project benefits the efficient movement of freight on the national freight network. A new wrinkle is that they can spend up to 10% on freight rail and maritime projects provided that the expenditure of those funds on the rail or the maritime projects improves the performance of the highway system, so it's directly tied to the performance of the highway system. If the cost to put the money into the rail or the maritime side is less than what it would cost to get the same performance improvement on the highways, then the delta can be spent to improve the highway system that wouldn't otherwise be available. The objective is the performance of the highway system, and the best way to get us there is what the monies are designed to do. Again, this represents the core network relative to the comprehensive network that the Europeans have put in place with the Trans-European Network - Transportation (TEN-T). The primary freight network are the core trunk lines that move through the US system.

Eligible locations for the projects include: on the primary freight network; on the interstate not designated as the primary freight network; on roads off of the interstate system if the primary freight network funds would provide a more significant improvement or critical freight access to the primary freight network or interstate system. It also allows monies to be spent within the boundaries of public or private intermodal facilities. Along the lines of what TIFIA allows, it's surface transportation improvements up to the point of intermodal interchange and does not include things like cranes. For the freight rail or maritime projects, the state can spend up to 10% of the funds, but it requires them to come to the Secretary and to ask for concurrence from the Department before they can make the expenditures off of the highway system.

The enhanced highway system works hand in glove with this. This is the comprehensive piece. It covers all the connectivity to the major trunk lines. The enhanced national highway system is the current NHS and it adds all urban and rural principal arterial routes and border crossings that are not already part of the NHS. All of the intermodal connectors are included, and the thresholds for what constitutes an intermodal connector are already contained in the NHS guidance. Then, of course, it contains the strategic highway network and its connectors. What needs to be resolved given this new look at the NHS and the primary freight network is where the national network currently fits into this. As many of you know, the national network and the NHS are not synonymous. There many places where they're coincidental and many places where they're not, and exactly how the national network fits into the new arrangement of the comprehensive piece of the NHS and the core network of the primary freight network is one of those outstanding questions that we need to think about.

The next piece is the National Freight Strategic Plan. This is an extensive document and is going to be a major undertaking in the Department and not going to be done within the four walls of the DOT. We would have to reach out and touch base with State DOTs and with the transportation industry, both the carriers and the shippers, in thinking through the best way to do this. There are a number of Federal advisory committees where we can use the horsepower and the access there to help us think through a lot of pieces of the puzzle, and some of it will be done in listening sessions and the like. What you see on the list here are a lot of the elements that would be included within the National Freight Strategic Plan. A lot of the work has already been done, and we would then take this through a more public process in talking about how we would establish highway bottlenecks and identify major trade gateways and national freight corridors. The assessment of barriers to improve freight transportation performance would require us to have conversations with the industry and State DOTs. The idea of how we would put in place multi-state projects and encourage jurisdictions to collaborate would also require input from industry and state DOTs.

Again, when you look at the idea that we're re-designating the primary freight network and that we're going have the conditions and performance plan, all of this is going to be stitched together and put on a cycle so one follows the other logically. Freight performance management requires the DOT within 2 years of enactment to establish performance measures, specifically for the freight network and not for the overall national network. The states would then need to establish performance targets that they would be working toward, and the states are not allowed to obligate national freight funds until they have established the targets by the deadlines established. The establishment of the targets is the turnkey for the states to obligate funds within the designated and apportioned program. It requires the states to progress towards those targets; they must report to the USDOT on a biennial basis their progress, and in the absence of progress the state must submit to the DOT a performance improvement plan on how they're going to achieve the targets they have set.

The next slide is the freight transportation conditions and performance report. This is almost a subset within the National Freight Strategic Plan, and it requires us to put out a report every 2 years. How this coincides with the existing conditions and performance report and how it's going to coincide with the establishment and the re-designation, all of these pieces need to get stitched to together and work together, and we have to work on how that is going to get done.

Shifting gears, we have projects of national and regional significance. This was in SAFETEA-LU. As many of you know, this was earmarked and there was no discretion allowed. This time, it's hoped that Congress will stick to their no earmark philosophy and this will become a program where we can do some evaluation and selection along the lines of what we have done for TIGER. It is specifically targeted at those projects that are difficult to complete with the existing state and private funds, so it's the element that kicks it over the top. The eligibility is expanded to allow many players into the game other than just State DOTs, and it is along the lines of the elements that exist within TIGER. Eligible projects move beyond the existing current law that was part of SAFETEA-LU to include transit, but it also says eligible for federal financial assistance under Title 23 as opposed to Federal grants under Title 23, and that opens the door of eligibility to everything currently included in TIFIA.

For the project size, the dollar figure stays the same at $500 million, but it drops the floor to 30% of apportionment as opposed to 75% of apportionment, which is how it was crafted within SAFETEA-LU. There are major criteria that have to be part of every project that deals specifically with national and regional scope and requires a significant non-Federal commitment. Then there are a number of additional considerations that have to be taken into account, but are not hard and fast, which include construction start, innovative project delivery, collaboration between states, geographic distribution, etc., and those are considerations and not required in order to be selected by the Secretary. It also drops the Federal share from an 80-20 program as it was in current law to a 50% limitation or, if it's on a private facility, to the smaller of that or whatever the public benefit is determined to be for the project itself.

In the national freight program, the $4 billion that you see here is over the life of the bill, so that's a 2 year figure, putting us at $2 billion a year for the national freight program. On the discretionary side, on projects of national and regional significance, it's $1 billion, and those are general funds as opposed to highway trust fund dollars.

Jason's Law (Truck Parking) is basically an eligibility within a number of other programs. It is not specifically funded anywhere within MAP-21, but Jason's law basically provides this type of project to being included in the transportation mobility program, the highway safety improvement program and the national freight program. The USDOT is required to conduct and periodically update a survey/assessment of commercial motor vehicle parking needs. To what extent we could incorporate that into the conditions and performance report or the strategic plan so that we're not generating yet another document but keeping them together in some cohesive manner is something we would have a conversation with the Hill about.

The next one is special permits during national emergencies. Many of you know of the desire of states and governors to maximize the amount of relief supplies and response equipment that show up when a national emergency takes place. We have delved into the idea of blanket waivers that a number of states decide they want to give, which runs in direct contradiction to a lot of the federal requirements, and we specifically asked the states to issue permits for this. This piece of legislation enables the states to issue special permits during times of nationally-declared emergencies (not state-declared emergencies) in accordance with the Stafford Act. The States are completely within bounds to issue the permits they need to to provide the kind of relief and support to their constituency that they need to, but they must do it within the confines of the permit systems to make sure that the vehicles operating on the system can be supported by the infrastructure and are not running without a permit or control on their movement. If this makes it all the way through and we wind up with this in the legislation, there will be no reason for states to issue blanket waivers for size and weight requirements on the system as they will now have the authority they need to issue special permits during national emergencies.

On freight research and professional capacity building, both the National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) and the Freight Professional Capacity Building program are within the legislation. We have maintained the capacity that we received in SAFETEA-LU in order to go forward with the Freight Professional Capacity Building Program and NCFRP.

The last thing here is the freight data. It requires USDOT to do everything listed on the slide, and we will continue to expand the data and the tools we currently provide to the states and to the MPOs to better understand goods movement across the system. Under section 2203, the research and technology development and deployment section, it tells us how to spend our research dollars. We have the full authority and discretion under the reducing congestion and improving highway performance and enhancing freight mobility section to spend the funds we need to continue to enhance the freight analysis framework and freight performance measures and the rest of the tools that we have put in place to help us all understand freight movement more efficiently on the system.

The freight program development process, you see here some of the things we'd have to do. We would refine this timeline. It gives us an idea of what it would take to implement the action required and the timeline for the action required. There will be a lot of rulemaking we will have to do, and once it goes into the rulemaking, that is a process and everyone gets an opportunity to comment. For those of you who have worked through the rulemaking process, you understand that every comment on the docket has to be responded to by the regulating agency, so that is giving everyone an opportunity to get their say and to voice their opinions.

For the freight program implementation processes, I think for a lot of this activity we have a good foundation within the department to go forward. For the primary freight network designations, the FAF can be used as a starting point. If you look at the criteria that they use to define the primary freight network, you will see it has a lot of the foundational elements are contained within the FAF. For the projects of regional and national significancet evaluation, we have been through this three different times with TIGER and have a well-established process in USDOT that is multi-modal and will enable us to look at these projects across the department on a whole host of different elements, including the benefit-cost and the environmental piece of it. We also have a lot of experience putting together a C&P report, and then we'll put together the strategic plan and stitch it all together.

We will have a lot of work in front of us if even half of this bill makes it all of the way through to the process. It's work we look forward to doing and something we've been advocating for some time. This bill presents an awful lot of really exciting opportunities for us that we look forward to tackling, even though it will be a ton of work. With that, I will turn it over to Leo.

Jennifer Symoun
Tony's presentation is available for download, so you can you get that link after you download the presentation. Leo, I will turn it over to you now.

Leo Penne
Thank you. Good afternoon and good morning to those of you on the West Coast. I will cover much of the same territory that Tony covered, and that might be good news and bad news. The good news is that where we agree, that suggests that two people have interpreted something in the same way, and where we disagree, that could be that one of us is right and one of us is wrong and there are things, I think, of special interest to the States and to the State DOTs. What Tony presented is very useful as an indication of how the USDOT would manage or administer the elements of this proposal should it be enacted. I think there are also matters that either raise issues or create challenges for the State DOTs. In addition to simply doing a summary overview of the proposal, I will focus on a few of those at the end.

What you see on the screen is AASHTO's general reaction to the passage of MAP-21 by the Senate Environment and Public Works Bill. I will not read it, but John Horsley, AASHTO's Executive Director, made a positive comment about the progress and a piece of legislation that is over 2 years late and in its eighth extension, and also positive on the general substance of the program. The general provisions are, of course, important to State DOTs because the freight program is nested in the more general provisions of MAP-21. I point out that the committee passed it 18-0, which in this time and day is important, and a very strong performance within the Senate committee in terms of getting agreement amongst all of the parties (not only the political parties, but all of the interests) and getting agreement on what is a lot of significant substance.

The general provisions of the program are: a 2-year authorization with current funding plus inflation; consolidation of programs when you count them all from 90 to 30, when you look at the core programs from 7-5; expedited project delivery; performance management; and no earmarks.

The major programs within MAP-21 are the National Highway Performance Program, Transportation Mobility Program, National Freight Program, CMAQ, Safety, TIFIA, Projects of National and Regional Significance, and Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation. I mention Federal Lands because I worked for the State of Nevada for some time and for many states the Federal Lands Program is very important. It meets an important need.

The National Freight Program: I can leave to you read the description of it. It will support the improved freight movement for the general purposes of competing in the economy. It also has this list of goals, which starts with competitiveness, includes reduced congestion, improving state of good repair and improved economic efficiency of the freight network.

To provide a quick overview, the MAP-21 freight program includes the national network. It includes funding and eligibility for a wide range of highway projects, but also for maritime and rail projects. It also includes the projects of national/regional significance, the performance goals provision, and the Transportation Mobility Program.

The projects must meet certain criteria: significantly improving freight movement, benefit exceeding cost and that if it is a project on maritime or rail, that it produces a better return on investment than would be an investment in the highway.

The National Freight Network is the designation of at least 27,000 center line miles with the possibility of increasing that by 3,000 at the discretion of the Secretary, based on tonnage by all modes. An important point is that the network incorporates maritime waterways and rail in the definition or designation of the network. Origins and destinations, percentages and averages of truck traffic, and connectivity to important freight generators are also factors in designation. It will be re-designated in 2015 and every 10 year. Critical rural freight corridors are to be determined by the state, but in general, they are arterials that have at least 25% drug traffic or connect to primary network or interstate for facilities with 50,000 TEUs or 500,000 tons of bulk freight per year. The national network and critical rural freight corridors constitute, in general, the freight system that this piece of legislation would address.

The funding is beyond my understanding, but what it boils down to is $2 billion plus a year and then state apportionments based on the percentages of primary freight network relative to the interstate mileage in the state.

Project costs: what is eligible? It's a very broad eligibility that includes the preliminary phases of a project, which is important to the states. It includes all facets of capital construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, right of-of-way acquisition, equipment acquisition, and then a long list of specific items that include highway rail grade separation, truck-only lanes, truck parking, and then a general provision for any other activities to improve the flow of freight on the National Freight Network. It's a very broad eligibility for project costs. It also has a provision that allows for spending preceding the designation of the network that would be grandfathered as freight spending under the program.

Where can you have projects? On the primary freight network; other segments of the interstate; off of the primary network and interstate if there is significant improvement to freight and critical access to the interstate or primary network; intermodal connectors of the rural freight corridors; and within both public and private intermodal facilities if the project is focused on connecting to the outside.

The national freight strategic plan that Tony described would constitute the framework for the USDOT and within it, the framework for the states and others as well. On the screen, you see a list of the things to be included in the freight strategic plan.

Performance targets: the USDOT is to establish within two years national, quantifiable performance measures for freight movement on the primary freight network. Each state will do the same for its territory. The state must report every 2 years on progress, and if there is no progress, then the state must provide a description of how it plans to make progress.

Freight rail and maritime projects can receive up to 10% of freight apportionment. They must demonstrate significant improvement to the national freight network, positive benefit cost, and better run than a highway project on a segment of the primary freight network.

Other freight provisions: the CMP, the Conditions and Performance Report, the investment data, planning tools, truck parking, which is, as Tony said, is incorporated in a variety of places, and the mysterious aerotropolis transportation system.

Within a MAP-21, there are other provisions that are important relative to freight, one of them being TIFIA, which has enough loan guarantee money to leverage, I think, something like $20 billion a year in total projects. Other provisions include: Projects of National and Regional Significance, which Tony described; the general planning divisions within which freight resides; and the performance measurements system, which includes the freight performance measures and a variety of other performance measures.

State issues include things that seem to me that states will want to understand, and should this be enacted or something like it be enacted, things states will need to do or be responsible. Without a lot of elaboration on this, I will simply read the slide. For the designation of freight routes, the states will be consulted in connection with the primary freight system, and they are responsible for the rural freight system or corridors. They will also be responsible for defining and selecting freight projects. Where states are not routinely now doing "freight projects," there will be some effort required to figure out what constitutes a freight project and how you put it into your project selection system in a way that makes sense and makes it possible to actually select freight projects. (I should mention, by the way, from the point of view of AASHTO, the highway program is a freight transportation program. The most important thing to accomplish is a reauthorization with adequate funding for the highway program. Within it, the freight program offers a focus on freight-specific projects, but a great many investments in the highway program are beneficial to freight movement and to passenger movement.) States would be responsible for cross-mode analysis or understanding and comparing investment in maritime rail and maritime including waterways, relative to highway. Planning for freight is part of the overall planning process as well as developing and applying performance measures. Multistate cooperation: AASHTO, in its proposal for re-authorization, included a proposal for federal funding of multistate freight corridor organizations. That is not in MAP-21. There is reference to multistate cooperation, and where you have significant freight projects, and recognizing the freight knows no boundaries, multistate cooperation is important. State-local cooperation: looking at MAP-21 and the allocation of planning responsibilities and program authority between states and localities is important. That is not something addressed in the freight section, but since many of the principle freight bottlenecks or congestion points are in urban areas, figuring out how to make the program work in cooperation between states and localities will be important.

So, questions, and most importantly, answers. I am not sure I have the answers, so we will turn to questions after Mr. Roth, and I hope people on the call can provide the answers. I would ask that state people, or for that matter, anyone who is on the line, if following this or during this webinar there are particular items you think we at AASHTO should be paying attention to or that you want information on, please send me a message at this e-mail address. Thank you.

Jennifer Symoun
Thank you, Leo. We will now move on to our final presentation given by Darrin Roth of the American Trucking Association.

Darrin Roth
Thanks, Jennifer. I appreciate the opportunity to present. A word of introduction: ATA is the national representative of the trucking industry and we have members in every state and every segment of the trucking industry. We're generally pleased with MAP-21. There are issues and things we would like to see changed, but most importantly, we want to see the bill move forward and long-term funding provided. Ultimately, that will be the best thing for the freight system. The highway system, as I think Leo alluded to, is a freight system. We pay attention to the whole bill and to the Federal aid highway program because that is our workplace and the trucking industry's workplace, and we rely on the highway system to move our goods.

The funding levels provided for highways: if you read the various commission reports, when you look at the DOT Highway Needs Report, I think there is a general agreement that we're spending about half of what we need to on the highway system in order to bring it up to an acceptable level of maintenance and to address the congestion problems we're having. The political reality is that we should be satisfied with continuing current funding levels, since it was not that long ago that the House was talking about cutting the highway program by one third to bring it down to the level that the highway trust fund could support. We obviously would prefer a higher level of funding for highways, but we'll be satisfied with simply continuing current revenue considering the environment that we're now in. The issue we have with that is if we do have a constrained funding level for highways, we feel it's imperative that the money gets spent in way that targets the most critical projects. Part of that is avoiding diversion of the money to non-highway projects and programs, and this is a theme throughout my presentation. When you look at all freight modes, we tend to be protective of how that money is spent, and so we're concerned about new or expanded eligibility for non-highway projects, including for freight rail, and maritime transportation projects because that, frankly, dilutes the highway program and takes away from money that we feel should be directed toward highways.

There was a lot of discussion about the enhancements program, and I think there was recognition that the enhancements program, given the constrained level of funding, may not represent the best use of the money, as far as a Federal perspective is concerned. I think there was agreement that states should have the option of investing in enhancements, and most of the money from enhancements goes to bike paths, pedestrian pathways, and things like transportation museums, archaeology projects, and things that one could argue should not be a part of the national transportation program. There was general agreement within the Senate that the set-aside for enhancements should go away. What ended up happening was the money for enhancements and similar programs, like safe routes to schools, got rolled into the CMAQ program, and part of CMAQ is now set aside, so enhancements were renamed and moved to a new program, but they're still there.

We also support the performance standards that are in the bill and we hope these will result in better decision making, including on freight-related projects. Thanks to the good work that Tony and the freight office have done coming up with the freight data and the massive amounts of data that ATRI has gathered through the freight performance management program to allow us to know where trucks are going and the condition of the highway system, we now have the tools to be able to do this effectively within the freight program. I think the one component that is missing from that is the vehicle inventory and use survey, which gave us a lot of data that would be useful for this purpose but was discontinued in 2002. We would like to see that restored.

Getting into the specific programs, the National Freight Program is $4.1 billion over 2 years, or about 5% of the total money available for highways. Frankly, that is a fairly low level of funding; there are projects out there that would cost $4 billion by themselves. Therefore, we feel the money that is available under this program should be better directed. We do oppose the 10% set aside for freight rail and maritime projects and port project eligibility. The highway network that is eligible is extremely extensive: basically the entire interstate system plus various rural highways. We're glad that there is a new core program for freight and that most of the money will go to highways, but given the low funding levels, we feel that eligibility should be narrowed at most to the national freight network, but we would like to see it narrowed even more than that. There is a political reality here that every state has to get a piece of that pie to be acceptable and to get enough votes to make it through the committee and Congress, but I think there's a way to do that. We suggested separating the program into two parts: one part being spread around the states and another part focusing in on the major freight bottlenecks. The challenge is that there is not a lot of money to be able to do that, but somehow, we need to be able to really take care of those major highway bottlenecks that are slowing down the movement of freight.

On the PNRS, we generally support this program and we're glad that it's not earmarked as it was in SAFETEA-LU. The critical piece for us is that it's currently funded out of the general fund, not the highway trust fund. If it was the highway trust fund, we would have to oppose it because of the multimodal nature of the program. Of course, the issue there is that Congress is having trouble identifying the $12 or $13 billion in additional money to top of what is available from the highway trust fund to keep the program at current levels. With PNRS, general fund money, that is another billion dollars that Congress is going to have to find. One of the issues we have with the PNRS approach is that it rolls the dice on whether you're going to get the most important projects. You're relying on the states to submit good projects. We would prefer more of a top down approach where the Feds identify where the biggest problems are and then at least give preferences to those projects. The freight program has a requirement for DOT to identify highway freight bottlenecks, and what we would like to see is a link between that list and PNRS where those projects get preference for funding. We also need to ensure that the benefit cost analysis is robust. I think TIGER was a similar program, and there were some questions as to whether the benefit cost methodology was sound, so we hope that in the process of putting this program together, we get good benefit cost analysis to drive decision making on this program.

Truck parking: we certainly support money for truck parking. There was a pilot program in SAFETEA-LU that provided dedicated funding for parking. We prefer this approach. MAP-21 provides eligibility for parking, but not a set aside, and our experience has been that when parking has to compete with other priorities, it generally doesn't get funded. While we like the fact that parking is eligible under the program, we would really prefer a set aside.

Finally, the commerce bill was just marked up this morning and I know there are several amendments, so I'm not sure exactly what is in that bill now, but I will take a shot. It does have a freight planning section, and I think some of the language in there will have to be resolved with the freight planning section in MAP-21. There could be some conflict, but it's there. There is also a multimodal grant program that is similar to PNRS. The original language didn't have highway funding, and that might have been changed to include highway funding, but we'll have to look at the language. Again, this is something that may have to be worked out or resolved with MAP-21. It's a very similar grant program to PNRS. There is a truck size and weight study in the commerce bill, which we don't think is necessary. There are decades of research on heavy trucks, so we don't think that is necessary. This is just a delaying tactic to prevent changes in the size and weight regulations. Our feeling is that the state should be given authority to make appropriate changes. The way the study is written, it will be a huge burden on FHWA resources and it will be an expensive study, so we would oppose it.

That concludes my presentation. I will be happy to take any questions. Thank you.

Jennifer Symoun
Thank you, Darrin. I know we have a number of questions in here, so I will try to get through them all. A lot of them, I think that probably any one of the presenters might be able to answer. The first question is: is there any role for rail?

Tony Furst
I think the answer is kind of where we were with the eligibility for rail projects in the bill, both in PNRS and the national freight program and the transportation mobility program, provided, of course, that any investments in those modes wind up with a net benefit to the highway system. All of these are directly tied to a benefit to the highway system. There is no money for rail other than to the benefit of the highway. As long as the investments you're putting in there wind up improving system performance on the highways, you can put money into a parallel line, provided, of course, that the investments you place there will cost you less than what it would cost to you get the same system performance improvement by investing in the highways. That is what I would say the role for rail is in this.

Jennifer Symoun
To follow up, how would a rail or maritime project need to demonstrate the potential to benefit the highway system?

Tony Furst
I think along the lines we saw in a lot the projects proposed to us in TIGER. They would demonstrate the reduction of commercial motor vehicles on the highways by putting the cargo that is moved by trucks onto a parallel system, which would result in emissions reductions, maintenance cost on the highways, fuel savings and the like. Those are quantified as benefits to the system, as opposed to the cost it would take to do that. We have seen a lot of that takes place early in TIGER, but as Darrin said, you really need to define the benefit cost methodology to make sure that everyone is operating from the same template and can count things the same way. I agree with him completely in his part of what it says in MAP-21. We need to provide the tools and mechanisms that enable the states and the applicants putting in projects to have a very clear and definitive benefit cost methodology so that we can compare across projects.

Jennifer Symoun
The next question is: what is the timeframe for the national freight plan?

Tony Furst
That is in the legislation itself. I think it's two years, and then every five years thereafter, we have to put in place a national freight strategic plan. I'd have to take a look at the actual elements of the bill. Not later than three years after the date of enactment the Secretary shall put together the national freight strategic plan, which shall include x, y, and z.

Leo Penne
Which is after the end of the authorization.

Tony Furst
Exactly correct. By the time we get this done, the two-year bill would have expired. You're correct. Then it says, not later than five years after the date of completion of the first strategic plan and every five years thereafter, the secretary shall update, so at three years initially and then on a five-year cycle.

Jennifer Symoun
What if the state is in the process of establishing performance targets? Will they need to be redone after the feds establish theirs?

Tony Furst
Well, the feds don't establish the targets; they establish the performance metrics, is my understanding from way this reads. We establish the performance measures, but then the states are the ones that establish their individual targets.

Leo Penne
And presumably, the states will be involved in the consultation on the measures.

Tony Furst
Absolutely. Before we establish what the measures are, that's going to be a very public process.

Jennifer Symoun
Can states use funds on rail, intermodal or maritime only if they have established performance measures that include those modes?

Tony Furst
The way the language in the bill is written, it has to do with the performance of the highways, not the performance of the other modes. I would think that whatever they put in place, whatever projects they have, there has to be reasonable assurance that whatever freight is moved onto the alternative mode is not going come back to the highway system after the fact. If they have to put in place performance measures on the alternate modes to demonstrate and to show that the goods that are shifted to that alternative mode stay there, that is one thing. For the purposes of the project eligibility, it's the system performance of the highways that is paramount in this bill.

Darrin Roth
I guess the one exception to that would be PNRS, right Tony?

Tony Furst
True. I'm talking about the national freight program, which is trust fund dollars. The PNRS money is general fund.

Jennifer Symoun
I believe the next few questions are related to PNRS. Are applicants still limited to governmental entities or can private entities apply?

Tony Furst
The term eligible applicant means: State department of transportation or a group of State Departments of Transportation, a local government, a tribal government, a consortium of tribal governments, a transit agency, a port authority, a metropolitan planning organization, other political subdivisions of state or local governments, or s multistate or multijurisdictional group of the aforementioned entities. So yes, it's all public, but that doesn't mean the private sector can't partners with the public entity in proposing a project for PNRS. We saw that in TIGER routinely, but the actual applicant has to be a public entity.

Jennifer Symoun
Can related projects be combined to reach the project cost floor requirements or must each have independent utility?

Tony Furst
They can be combined. The way it reads for eligible projects for PNRS: the term eligible project means a surface transportation project or a program of integrated surface transportation projects closely related in the function they perform. You can combine projects, but they can't be all over the place. They have to be an integrated whole.

Jennifer Symoun
Any thoughts on the specific eligibility of inland navigation/Marine Highway Systems for funding under NFN concepts?
Tony Furst
Again, along the lines of what is allowed, there is 10% in the national program, 5% in transportation mobility. If you have an alternative mode-maritime or rail-that can improve the performance of the parallel highway system, then you're there. For PNRS, you stand on your own, as Darrin noted.

Jennifer Symoun
Could funding for new CMV include incentives for building in low-profile electrified parking space technology to enable drivers without onboard cab comfort technology to get better sleep and save money on fuel?

Darrin Roth
I think there is eligibility for those types of things in the freight program and in CMAQ.

Tony Furst
There might be under CMAQ. I was thinking under Jason's Law it's more a capacity issue and an availability of parking issues opposed to the amenities of the parking program. I agree with Darrin that you could look under CMAQ to find potential eligibilities along the line of the question. I would have to look at that to make that determination. CMAQ is where I would look, though.

Jennifer Symoun
Do you have an idea of what the network would look like based on today's information?
Specifically, what interstates would be considered part of the national freight network?

Tony Furst
I would direct you to head to the freight office website and pull down the publication "Freight Story 2008." In that document, we prototyped the type of analysis it talks about within the piece of legislation. We looked at what a network could look like if you combined all places that generated a more than a million TEUs, more than a million tons of cargo or $50 billion worth of value (when you're talking air freight, you talk value; tonnage is insignificant). You connect all of the freight generators with all major metropolitan areas of a million or more. Along those corridors, you move 50 million tons on an annual basis. What would that network look like? That map shows the major freight corridors. You can look at that in the publication "Freight Story 2008" and read all of the language pertaining to the maps and how we construct that. Those are the thresholds we picked, but you can pick different ones. What if we connected freight generators of 2 million or more TEUs or 500,000 TEUs, or population centers of 1 million opposed to 2 million? Where we place the set points is a conversation we're going to have when we talk about the primary freight network, but we have the capacity and the data to be able to have that conversation and look at what the different networks will look like.

Jennifer Symoun
How is the National Freight Network portion of MAP-21 related to the Freight Act bill?

Tony Furst
I would have to go back and look at the Freight Act bill. You have any ideas on that, Leo or Darrin? There have been so many bills I have looked at over the last year that I can't recall which elements are attached to which bill. I don't have an answer for you. If you send the information to the website, we'll be able to take a look at it. I don't have that off of the top of my head, unless Darrin or Leo has it.

Leo Penne
The most recent outline of the House bill did not include a freight program. The so-called Oberstar bill included elements of a freight program, but that has receded into the rearview mirror. At the moment, I don't know what the House is thinking about a freight title or freight program.

Darrin Roth
The Freight Act was introduced earlier this year. Part of that bill was incorporated into the Senate commerce committee's bill that was marked up today. I know that was amended during the mark-up, so we don't know exactly what is in there. It does include freight planning language. As I said in my presentation, some of that is going to conflict with what was in MAP-21.

Leo Penne
We saw, as Darrin did a version of the Freight Act six months ago, and my understanding is that it's undergone some significant change. I have not seen what I assume the commerce committee reported today.

Jennifer Symoun
Will the performance measures include environmental measures?

Tony Furst
To be determined; I don't have an answer for you. It says not later than two years after the enactment of this section, the Secretary, in consultation with the State departments of transportation and other private sector stakeholders shall publish rulemaking that establishes quantifiable performance measures for freight movement on the primary freight network. This is going to be a public process. As someone asked earlier, what if a state is putting in place performance measures, how will that play into it? States will have a very big voice in how we put this together, and so will the industry. I can't say yes or in. We'll find out when we go through the rulemaking process.

Jennifer Symoun
Any thoughts on what constitutes "better return than a highway project on a segment of the primary freight network" for the 10% language for maritime and rail?

Tony Furst
Again, once we establish performance measures on the system, performance measures are part of the overall MAP-21 construct, then we'll have a better idea of how to quantify the benefits. I guess the benefits will be established by the performance measures themselves. If you have safety metrics, state of good repair metrics, travel time reliability metrics, or potentially a few environmental metrics, and you can demonstrate how one project will move these metrics farther than you would with the same amount of money on the highway system, you can put it on the alternative. The trick is you have to be able to demonstrate the benefit to the highway system and the highway system performance measures in order to get access to the national freight program funds within the trust fund.

Jennifer Symoun
What role is foreseen of MPOs?

Tony Furst
I would imagine the same role they currently have. Probably the construct for the MPOs and what is considered a certain size MPO is within the MAP-21 legislation itself. I haven't read through all of the particulars of that, other than that I know the set points for an MPO have increased and the ability to aggregate a number of MPOs is available within the legislation. As far as their role, I don't remember understanding that it's different than the role they currently have. Leo, have you guys looked at anything within the legislation relative to the MPO roles?

Leo Penne
We have, but I don't feel competent to speak to it. I think you were right that the basic responsibilities remain the same. There are changes with respect to size thresholds and there are some changes with respect to authority concerning projects within the MPO territory. I think people need to go to the bill or go to AMPO, the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, for insight on that.

Jennifer Symoun
We had a comment come in from Ed from the Office of Freight Management and Operations. MPOs do have a role in creating performance measures and incorporating freight plans.

Can you talk about the relationship of the freight program to community livability?

Tony Furst
Well, you know, all I would point to are the eligibilities. There are eligible project costs to reducing environmental impacts of freight movement on the national network. There are eligible costs for environmental mitigation. The freight program is designed to move goods more efficiently; it's not designed to be a community livability issue. Everyone understands that there are a lot of environmental justice and community livability issues related to freight movement, particularly in urban areas, and the idea to move freight more efficiently in those areas needs to be done in concert with the communities. There are eligible costs in the program enabling those accommodations to be made. Specifically, regarding what the projects are designed to do, they're designed to move more efficiently and less so in a way that is environmentally sustainable.

Jennifer Symoun
Do the freight provisions of MAP-21 have to be approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, which apparently has jurisdiction over freight issues?

Tony Furst
Not to my knowledge. I will turn that over to Leo or Darrin. I would imagine that because the MAP-21 bill controls trust fund dollars, they operate win their authority.

Leo Penne
I think some of what you see with respect to justification for spending on other-than-highway is language that is attentive to jurisdiction between those committees.

Darrin Roth
The planning process where it involves multiple freight modes is sort of a gray area as far as jurisdiction between the committees is concerned. I think part of the reason for including those provisions in the Senate commerce bill was to establish committee jurisdiction, so that is where you potentially see some discussion between the committees over which language prevails.

Jennifer Symoun
The next question is for Darrin. Will or has ATA lobbied to restore VIUS?

Darrin Roth
We have talked to committee staff about it, and I think they're open to it. It's just a question of finding the resources within the constrained bill to fund it. I would encourage everyone to contact the committee staff and members of the committee and express your support for it.

Leo Penne
Darrin, will you explain VIUS?

Darrin Roth
It looks at various vehicle configurations and gives you an understanding of the extent to which those vehicles are operating at what weight and what length, and sort of break out various vehicle types. Without that information, we know in general how many miles trucks are traveling and how many miles passenger vehicles are traveling, but you can't dig down any further than that. We have information on straight trucks versus tractor semi trailers, for example, but we don't know how many axles are on the trucks, how much the trucks weigh. We do to an extent, but VIUS gives us more information about that. I am sure Tony knows about it more than I do.

Tony Furst
The Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) is the translator we use to take the tonnage we have in the commodity flow survey, so we get origins to destination by mode, and convert that into truck trips. The VIUS is the translator that allows us to allocate tonnage across a fleet of vehicles so that we can then move to the network and assign that movement to the network. It's a key piece of how we do the business. We've been working off of extrapolated data from the 2002 VIUS, which is what we have, and I agree with Darrin that it's a key piece of data we need to better understand freight movement around the country.

Jennifer Symoun
What is the significance of the 27,000 miles figure?
Tony Furst
Again, if you go to "Freight Story 2008" and look at the length of centerline miles that are major freight corridors, it's about 27,000 miles. I can only surmise the Senate staff read the same publication and came to the same kind of conclusion.

Jennifer Symoun
Is the provision that allows commercial operations (such as food services) in publicly owned rest areas and parking spaces reinstated in MAP-21?

Tony Furst
I have no idea. I haven't read that.

Leo Penne
I don't think it's addressed. Therefore, it remains in place. Darrin, do you know?

Darrin Roth
I think that is correct.

Leo Penne
MAP-21 is an amendment to current law, and where there is something in current law not repealed by MAP-21, then it remains enforced.

Jennifer Symoun
Regarding Darrin's comment on states not seeing/funding projects of interstate/regional significance, could the corridor coalitions actually make some project funding decisions, or could a greater portion of national funding be withheld and awarded on the national level?

Darrin Roth
I'm not sure I understand the question, frankly.

Jennifer Symoun
Abby, you might want to type in some clarification on that.

Tony Furst
The latter part of this, could a greater portion of the national funding be withheld and awarded on a national level: that is PNRS. The billion dollars is national funding awarded at the national level. People would compete nationally, along the same lines as for TIGER, for the PNRS money. As to whether or not corridor coalitions could make funding decisions (decisions or applications), the way PNRS constructed, a state or a multiple of states could come forward with a number of projects they think to be competitive for PNRS and propose a project. We saw that in TIGER. There were five different states that came forward with the Crescent Corridor proposal, and I think there were five different states that came forward with the National Gateway proposal. Sure, can state comes together as a coalition and advance a project or a group of integrated projects toward a complete whole under PNRS? Yes, absolutely they can.

Jennifer Symoun
Abby further commented and said that the I-95 Corridor Coalition has gotten money to do studies but no actual projects. Corridor coalitions have a corridor view, at least.

Tony Furst
The member states of that Coalition could come together and put forward a project or a series of projects that work as an integrated whole in the same way that a number of states came forward and supported National Gateway. Yes, that is perfectly doable and workable within the current construct.

Jennifer Symoun
Is anyone nationally looking at the cumulative effects of the increasing trend to toll major highways on commercial freight - long haul or otherwise?

Darrin Roth
At ATA, we're very much aware of that. We see that as not the best way to fund the system. It's far more expensive and, frankly, if you do that, you will see a lot of vehicles, including trucks, moving off the interstates onto secondary roads. We don't see that as a good option. Where states are looking at it, a lot of time they're looking at it as a way to tax out-of-state travel rather than their own citizens, whether it's through placement of tolls at the borders or in some other way, locating toll booths to get out-of-state money.

Jennifer Symoun
Will the expected National Freight Policy be less highway (truck)-centric than national freight network-related funding is?

Tony Furst
I'm not sure which expected national freight policy Abby is speaking to. What we have is what is in the bill, and the bill is admittedly focused on the national freight network, which is very highway-centric in its approach. Again, it's addressing highway trust fund dollars. If there was a larger national freight policy in place, we would have to see. I would hope that if you're going have a comprehensive national freight policy, it would be multimodal because that is, quite frankly, the way goods move and the system.

Jennifer Symoun
When assessing "benefits" to parallel highway networks, are "new benefits directly related to proposed action" considered exclusively? Many parallel systems require maintenance and upgrades to remain viable. If the cost benefit or "net benefit" is only the incremental value of "new" highway relief, some important projects will not compete very well.

Tony Furst
That's exactly why we need to be clear about what constitutes benefits and what constitutes costs over what period of time, and if you do you that, what kind of discount factors you use. We are pushing forward with a lot of different areas regarding benefit costs. We used a lot of that in TIGER and, again, to reiterate what Darrin said earlier, we need to get that clearly defined for people so they understand what they can count as benefits and what they can count as costs and over what horizon of time we're talking about.
Jennifer Symoun
In developing the benefit cost methodology for individual (local/regional) projects, how will it be related to the national freight system? Will the overall efficiency of moving freight on a multi-modal system from national gateways to destinations be considered (efficiency measurement including both time and energy/fuel resources)?

Tony Furst
That is a lot to consider in one question. There are a lot of different things we'll have to look at as we work through this. Conceptually, Darrin doesn't like the idea. I happen to think that as long as we're improving the system performance of the highways so that the trucks are moving more efficiently and freely on the system, that's end game. How we would get to that and what we consider eligible costs and benefits to do that are something we have to work our way through.

Jennifer Symoun
Somebody responded regarding the question on the commerce committee bills. The coalition from America's Gateway and Trade Corridors provided the following update this morning. The approved S1950 has the following elements of the Freight Act, the National Freight Transportation Policy, National Freight infrastructure Investment greats, and the Freight Planning and Development.

We don't have any questions typed in the chat box. We have time, so if the operator could give instructions how to ask questions over the phone if someone wants to ask this way.

Operator
I would like to remind everyone in order to ask a question, press star and the number one on your telephone keypad. We'll pause to compile the Q&A roster.

Jennifer Symoun
While we're waiting for that, we have another question typed in. How do we rectify "users need to pay their fair share" with modal revenue diversion?

Tony Furst
Again, the objective is to improve the performance of the highway system. All of the trust fund dollars that are potentially allocated toward alternative modes are directly tied to improving the performance of the highway system. If the end game is a system that is more responsive and performs better and a system that moves goods more efficiently, and we can gain those system benefits bow putting money in the alternative mode at a cost that is less than what it would take to put it on the highway system, then ultimately, you get what you want. Plus you have the Delta to spend on the highway system in some other way; money that you would not have otherwise. Again, it's limited to a small percentage of the overall amounts. The objective is clearly tied to system performance and doesn't get wrapped around the axle on where on the system the money is spent. It has a broader and more comprehensive objective of system performance.

Darrin Roth
From our perspective, the assumption is that modes are more fungible than in reality, because we, frankly, don't see a lot of competition between truck and rail and truck and maritime. There is very little competition between modes, and we don't really see the opportunity for shifting freight from trucks to those other modes to the extent needed to have some measurable congestion relief. We don't see that as an effective approach.

Jennifer Symoun
We have a few people that typed in questions. Why does a "freight policy" have a bottom line of improving efficiency of highway system as opposed to improving efficiency of freight as primary objective?

Tony Furst
The freight policy in this bill is tied to the highway system. This is a surface transportation bill and it allocates highway trust fund dollars. What you will see in here is going to be targeted toward the highway system. In a more broad-ranging policy that deals with multi-modes, you'd probably see something different. I would look at the Freight Focus Act and the policy in there, and you will probably see what you're looking for.

Jennifer Symoun
Another thing I wanted to mention, going back to the question about freight mobility, the talking freight seminar in September of this year was on that topic. If you want to look at the presentations or recording from that, you can go to freight website.

With that, I think we will close out for today. I want to thank everybody for attending and thank all three presenters. The recorded version of today's webinar will be available online within the next few weeks on the Talking Freight website. I will send out an e-mail once it's available.

As a reminder, if you are an AICP member and would like to receive 1.5 Certification Maintenance credits for attending this seminar, please make sure you were signed in today with your first and last name, or type your first and last name into the chat box if you are attending with a group of people. Please download the evaluation form and email it to me after you have completed it. Please also download the CM Credit instructions if you are unsure of how to obtain your credits for today's seminar.

The next webinar will be held on January 18th. The webinar is not currently available for registration. I would send a notice out through the freight planning listserv once it is. If you're not a member on the listserv, I encourage you to join it as that is a primary mechanism for sharing information about talking freight as well as other freight topics.

Thank you, everybody. Enjoy the rest of your day, and we'll see you in the New Year.

Updated: 01/30/2012
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