Ports-to-Plains Alliance urges FHWA Administrator to Provide Guidance on Critical Rural Freight Corridors
On April 4, 2016, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce hosted the Administrator’s Roundtable on the Freight Economy which included Gregory Nadeau, FHWA Administrator and Tretha Chromey, Senior Policy Advisor, FHWA Freight Program Office along with John Cater, FHWA Colorado Division Administrator and Chailen Bhatt, Executive Director at Colorado Department of Transportation.
The roundtable included overviews of the Freight Economy and Federal Freight Funding. At the center of the Roundtable was a facilitated discussion of trends, challenges and opportunities.
Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations for the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, was able to initiate a discussion about the importance of guidance from USDOT/FHWA on the process for states to designate Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFC). At the core of the importance is eligibility to be included in the final National Multimodal Freight Network which, pursuant to the FAST Act must be finalized by December 4, 2016.
Gary Beedy, Genoa, CO, a member of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance Board of Directors, was able make a strong case for the Heartland Expressway (Colorado Highway 71) as an alternative truck route for north/south freight on Interstate 25 north of Denver.
See more about Critical Rural Freight Corridors in the articles on the Washington DC Fly-in and on the AASHTO Implementation Recommendations.
Washington DC Fly-in Messaging
Nineteen representatives of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance will be in Washington DC holding congressional office meetings on April 20-21, 2016. With a goals of meeting in every senate and house office representing the ten-state region, the primary messaging is outlined below:
PTP Recommendations and the FAST Act
The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is pleased with the FAST Act and especially its increased focus on freight. Last year the Alliance provided its recommendations for transportation reauthorization and as outlined in the handout, many of our recommendations were included in the final bill. Significantly:
The five year FAST Act provides much-needed long-term certainty and flexibility for state and local governments and creates opportunities for improving rural highway corridors vital to safe travel, economic development, and energy development for North America
The new freight program provided important opportunities in both planning and funding for multi-state rural highway corridors that are essential to the development of America’s energy and agricultural resources.
The National Multimodal Freight Network sets the stage for future transportation reauthorization legislation with its purpose is to guide future federal investments and assistance to states in directing resources.
The National Highway Freight Program provides formula-based freight funding to each state with eligibility for Critical Rural Freight Corridors.
The Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, a discretionary grant program focused on freight includes fund, goals and criteria which recognize rural, multi-state corridors; consider the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people; and seeks to improve roadways vital to national energy security.
Fixing The Highway Trust Fund
The FAST Act did not provide the permanent revenue solution necessary to maintain current levels of federal highway investments, much less increased investment. When the FAST Act transfer of $70 billion from the General Fund to the HTF is exhausted on September 30, 2020, the program will face a projected $19 billion-and-growing annual revenue shortfall. A top priority of the Alliance is for Congress to permanently address this shortfall as soon as possible as part of tax reform or other revenue-related measure.
Timely Designation of Critical Rural Freight Corridors
The opportunities presented by the FAST Act can be limited if USDOT/FHWA does not, in a timely manner, provide guidance to states on the process of designating Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFC). CRFCs were included in MAP-21, but during the two and a half years of MAP-21, the states received no guidance on the process of designation. Timing of the designation under the FAST Act can have significant impact upon rural multistate corridors’ ability to benefit from the freight provisions described above.
- Without designation, CRFCs cannot be included in the National Multimodal Freight Network which is required to be completed by December 4, 2016.
- Without designation, they may receive less consideration by states for use of the formula National Highway Freight Program funding.
- Without designation, they may receive less consideration by states and the administration for applications and funding through the discretionary Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program.
Timely promulgation of the CRFC guidance by DOT/FHWA is another top priority of the Alliance.
Reduced Hours of Operation at the Port of Raymond, MT
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced reduced hours at the Raymond Port of Entry. The action reduces the hours of operation from 24 to 18 hours per day, beginning on April 18 and running for 60 days. This action by CBP limits the alternatives for movement of goods through crossings in Montana and North Dakota and forces businesses to either wait to use the reduced hours or add additional travel time and miles to use the ports of entry at Sweetgrass (MT – 335 miles from Raymond) or Portal (ND – 92 miles from Raymond). Sweetgrass and Portal, 427 miles apart, would be the only choices on a 24 hour basis. The reduced hours also further affect hours or service hours for truckers. The Alliance would point out that the additional miles in the U.S. to use one of these remaining 24-hour ports also translates into additional miles on the Canadian side of the border.
Ports-to-Plains Alliance Caucus
The Alliance would like to thank the members of Congress that have served on the Ports-to-Plains Caucus. For those members not on the Caucus, we urge you to join. Membership in the caucus demonstrates your support of rural transportation and economic development as well as the development of the entire Ports-to-Plains corridor.
Energy & Agriculture Summit Update
The March 30-31, 2016 Energy and Agriculture Summit held in Lubbock, TX filled the available space with 122 attendees. If you missed it or want to review the presentations or see the photos of the event follow the links below.
Comments on the conference included:
- “One of the best ag/energy conferences”
- “Nice flow to the event. Great job of emcee keeping things on track!”
- “All of the speakers were prepared and did a nice job.”
- “Wonderful venue for this size group.”
- “I really feel like I learned a lot from the conference.”
- “Thanks for a great conference! The Energy and Agriculture Summit was great and a wonderful mix from throughout your coverage area. I got a great deal out of it.”
The Ports-to-Plains Alliance wishes to thank its co-host Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, the speakers, the sponsors and all 122 participants for making the Summit a success. This year’s sponsors included Silver sponsors: Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, ConcocoPhillips, Valero McKee Refinery and the Trinity Company and Bronze sponsors: Alon USA, Monsanto and Park, Hill, Smith & Cooper, Inc.
Mark your calendars for the 19th Annual Ports-to-Plains Alliance Conference in San Angelo, TX on September 13-15, 2016.
Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Project Submissions
USDOT/FHWA has called for applications for the FASTLANE Discretionary Grant Program. This funding was made availlable through the FAST Act under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) Program. While this is a highly competitive program for a total of $800 million nationally, two Ports-to-Plains Alliance projects have been selected for submission by the April 14th application deadline. Each state is able to submit three projects and other entites are also able to submit applications so the competition will be tough.
Current U.S. 85 Long X Bridge, ND
The Ports-to-Plains Alliance wishes to thank both the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) for deciding to submit projects along the corridor. NDNOT will be submitting the U.S. 85 Long X Bridge Project as a Small Category project. The FAST Act requires that a minimum of 10% of the $800 million allocations goes to projects in the Small Category. CDOT will be submitting the U.S. 287 Lamar Truck Reliever Route as a Large Project. Both projects will meet the threshold of being rural area projects. At least 25 percent of all NSFHP funds are reserved for projects – either large or small projects – in rural areas.
Ports-to-Plains Corridor Through Downtown Lamar, CO
The FAST Act establishes the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program to provide financial assistance – grants or credit assistance – to nationally and regionally significant freight and highway projects that align with the program goals to:
- improve safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people;
- generate national or regional economic benefits and an increase in global economic competitiveness of the U.S;
- reduce highway congestion and bottlenecks;
- improve connectivity between modes of freight transportation;
- enhance the resiliency of critical highway infrastructure and help protect the environment;
- improve roadways vital to national energy security;
- address the impact of population growth on the movement of people and freight, and
- mitigate the impacts of freight movements on communities.
Transportation organization says Oklahoma roads cost drivers
A transportation research group says roads in Oklahoma cost drivers in the state $4.9 billion a year because of higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.
A report released Wednesday by the Washington, D.C.-based group The Road Information Project says 28 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in Oklahoma are in poor condition and another 42 percent are in mediocre or fair condition. The report says deficient roads cost each Oklahoma City area driver $2,242 per year. Read on…
Complete TRIP Report: Oklahoma Transportation By The Numbers
How Difficult Is It to Move Oversize or Overweight (OSOW) Cargo across State Lines
As part of a study on multi-state, multi-modal oversize/overweight (OSOW) transportation for the Transportation Research Board, CPCS’ Alex Marach and Veiko Parming indexed 72 unique OSOW regulations, operational restrictions, and permitting requirements to display the inconsistency or “friction” between neighboring states.
Border friction reflects the additional delay, risk, administrative burden, and ultimately cost from differences in regulations. Border friction does not reflect the degree of regulatory restrictiveness itself: for example, two states that both have restrictive axle weights or strict civilian escort requirements are shown as sharing a border with a low friction ranking. Read on…
EPA's support of false, illegal attack on farmers draws attention of US Senate Ag Committee Chairman
Senator Pat Roberts, (R-Kan) just issued this press statement regarding the billboards that are part of the Whatsupstream political attack on farmers:
Chairman Pat Roberts: EPA Funds Used to Attack Farmers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today released the following statement regarding an anti-agriculture billboard in Washington state funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“This disturbing billboard is a bold example of exactly what America’s farmers and ranchers complain about all the time: the EPA has an agenda antagonistic to producers. Whether it’s overly burdensome and costly regulations or something as obvious as this this malicious billboard, the EPA has much to answer for in maligning those that grow the food and fiber to feed the world. Our farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land and want to see our natural resources protected as much as any other American.
“While there are legal concerns with the lack of disclosure of EPA’s involvement, the billboard is another example of EPA’s improper practice of encouraging the lobbying of legislators. How and why the EPA has allowed taxpayer dollars to be used to attack any industry, including our vital agriculture producers, demands answers.” Read on…