Highlights of Detroit TEA-21 National Listening Session
Corridors and Borders
August 27, 1998
OVERALL: The key issue in the Detroit session was how to distribute funding under the new National
Corridor Planning and Border Infrastructure Programs. Attendees debated whether funds should be
concentrated on international border programs or distributed throughout the country. Additionally, there
was much discussion about whether funding should be spent on marine and air ports of entry or only
on surface transportation improvements at border crossings. As in San Diego, the most difficult issue
was how to implement the program to make the most out of a small amount of funding given national
Business leaders discussed the importance of just-in-time delivery and noted that while they could count on most interstate truck movement for just-in-time delivery, the moment that the truck had to cross an international border, this was no longer possible.
Support for ITS Investments to Improve Operations:
Businesses were interested in both the physical capacity of the infrastructure as well as investing in streamlining entry processing through intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications and administrative coordination on both sides of the border.
There was also some discussion about separating trade facilitation from enforcement and
interdiction efforts. Customs officials indicated that this might be very difficult and that even
today, given the volume of movement of goods, they were only able to check a small percentage of the goods.
Fund Distribution Proposals:
Sid Morrison, the Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation asked that the funding not be spread between too many projects to have any substantial impact. At the same time, Charles Rountree with the Idaho Department of Transportation asked that each High Priority Corridor receive some funding, and representatives from Maine suggested that the funding be divided among regions, since small rural areas would never be able to compete with border crossings in areas like Detroit.
- Follow the freight. Funding should go to corridors where there is already substantial freight movement. Others argued that the program should look at how to take advantage of under- utilized border crossing areas.
- Focus on the borders. Several at the conference made the case that inside the country, freight movement was fairly good, and that the worst bottlenecks were at the borders. Additionally, current transportation dollars already were concentrated on internal freight mobility through national highway and interstate programs.
- Look at projects that are likely to be highly visible successes and ones that would deal with "connectivity gaps."
- Base project choices on volume and value of trade.
- Consider the national significance of project proposals in the funding process.
- There was some discussion about whether the borders program should include ports of entry that
are not on land borders. On the one hand, representatives from the Port Commission in Seattle
noted that they were as much a freight center as an actual border crossing, while others such
as the representatives from the trucking industry thought that Congressional intent was to
focus on the land border crossings.
- The USDOT should expect a high degree of cooperation among State, MPOs and other stakeholders in the projects that they fund. Stakeholders should be multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency and multi-disciplinary.
- The border and corridor programs should be closely coordinated.
- Do not compromise safety in the interest of efficiency.
- The U.S. DOT needs to encourage efforts to increase data collection about actual goods movement. Most current documentation on goods movement is insufficient to help in meaningful planning activities.
- Border criteria should also look at economic development issues such as retaining and expanding business on both sides of the border and promoting tourism.
- Before awarding funding for projects, administrators should consider environmental impacts, and whether there is substantial community opposition to the project. Also, criteria should include whether a project enhances the economic vitality and the quality of life of an area.
- The program should give incentives for multi-modal corridors, and projects that focus on more environmentally friendly freight movement.
- The USDOT should give special consideration to projects that provide more than an 80/20 match.
- Funds should not be used for non-transportation needs. Already funds are being allocated for law enforcement, instead of addressing basic infrastructure problems.
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