TMACOG Providing Input to National Freight Network
As required by the current federal transportation bill, MAP-21, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has created a national freight network plan to assist states in strategically directing resources toward improved system performance for the efficient movement of freight. A draft of that national plan has now been sent out to regional transportation planning agencies to get local input. TMACOG freight planners and members of the TMACOG Freight Advisory Committee are reviewing the FHWA draft and preparing comments. The TMACOG region is Lucas and Wood counties in Ohio and southern Monroe County, Michigan.
TMACOG Freight Planner Roger Streiffert says that focusing in on our region shows some gaps and anomalies in the draft that TMACOG will cite in comments to the FHWA. He noted that some designated National Highway System Intermodal Connectors are included in the plan, but some are not. Urban intermodal connectors are included but rural ones are not. He said that the rural connections should be addressed because the TMACOG region includes important facilities in rural areas, in particular the CSX Northwest Ohio Terminal in North Baltimore. Streiffert also has concerns that some of the data used to create the draft plan might be outdated. There have been changes in traffic volume near the Toledo Express Airport, and a large new distribution facility is under construction in Troy Township. He also noted that some parts of the draft network end abruptly at the state line.
Some comments from regions around the country have already been submitted to the FHWA. A common concern is the limitation of 27,000 miles as the pre-determined maximum of the network. Other questions that have been raised address methodology. Local planners have questioned how a defined network will affect local plans. Will the freight network become a funding classification, or change regional long range planning?
TMACOG will submit comments to meet the FHWA deadline of February 15. Release of the initial designation of the full National Freight Network is due later in 2014.