Bill would create trust fund for freight-based infrastructure

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 2/23/2015

A bill in Congress would create a trust fund to pay for road and rail infrastructure that serves the nation’s ports.

The bill, HR935, introduced by U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, would create the National Freight Network Trust Fund.

The act calls for 5 percent of all import duties already being collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be deposited into the trust fund. The lawmakers estimate that the fund will collect about $2 billion per year. States could then apply for grants from the fund to build, improve and maintain infrastructure such as roads, bridges and railways.

For example, some infrastructure leading to and from the ports is outdated for truck or rail traffic due to low bridge clearance. A state could apply for grant money to rebuild a bridge or otherwise increase clearance.

Hahn and Poe introduced their bill, which has 11 co-sponsors, on Feb. 12. It currently resides in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well as the House Ways and Means Committee.

Hahn filed a similar bill in the 113th Congress.

Separately, but related to freight movement, the U.S. Department of Transportation is currently working to develop a national freight strategic plan and a national freight network. OOIDA Senior Member Terry Button of Rushville, N.Y., is a member of the DOT’s National Freight Advisory Committee, which is helping to shape the plan.

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