U.S. Department of Transportation Shapes New Freight Policy

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the 47 people who will make up the new Freight Advisory Committee. The new committee assumes the task of devising a new plan to improve freight movement in the United States. Since there is no national agency that coordinates the movement of goods across state lines or the modes by which they are transported, the decision-making bodies are fragmented and inefficient.

Most existing agencies within the U.S. DOT advocate the use of highways, which certainly isn’t the only answer to the problem created by moving freight. By instead using rail and inland waterways (a more efficient and less polluting way to transport goods), trucks can be taken off the congested roadways. Major ports on the coasts also stand to benefit from the committee’s expertise and direction.

The eastern seaboard is slowly reaching a breaking point in an effort to get their ports up to spec for future years. Costs for fuel and consolidation in the shipping sector are spawning larger and larger ships, carrying more containers per unit of fuel. Many ships serving the Asia-Europe routes can’t fit into the expanded Panama Canal nor can they fit all but three U.S. East Coast ports.

Big problems are down the track if this course isn’t corrected. The West Coast ports can handle the bigger ships, which may cause a shift in the supply chain, rendering the new rail connections from the East Coast to the Midwest practically useless. Simply put, the new Freight Advisory Committee has a lot of work to do to keep imports to the East Coast ports steady.

The chosen members of the committee include: Terry Button, a member of the board of directors from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, who also works as a full-time farmer and truck driver; Mort Downey, Clinton’s deputy secretary of transportation; Karen Schmidt, executive director of the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board; and José Holguín-Veras, an engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The likely changes in the industry as well as in public policy will result in modifications to transportation insurance policies. Business owners reliant on the supply chain should stay informed as the Freight Advisory Committee makes alterations by talking to their local insurance agent for the most recent updates.

If you have any questions about transportation insurance or what the Freight Advisory Committee means to your business, ask one of our experts today.

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