How the National Freight Strategic Plan Can Benefit Shippers
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently announced the first-ever National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP), a historic initiative that will benefit shippers and others buying transportation and logistics solutions by delivering more affordable, efficient, and reliable options to move cargo.
Amidst continued growth in freight demand, the new plan lays out a vision for long-term investments in infrastructure, the workforce, and other essential parts of the freight system aimed at strengthening the nation’s competitiveness.
Every day, shippers move more than 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $52 billion via America’s transportation network. The freight network in the St. Louis, Missouri, region carries 210 million tons of inbound and outbound freight annually with a value of $6 billion.
We have been working diligently to enhance the freight network in the greater St. Louis region to accommodate anticipated growth and ensure shippers have options when moving cargo into and out of this pivotal hub. We are excited to see this plan for improving the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system that the St. Louis region is an integral part of.
The plan’s guiding principles of action for federal involvement in freight policy touch on familiar themes, including improving cross-sector, multi-jurisdictional, and multimodal collaboration and providing targeted federal resources and financial assistance to support freight projects that provide significant benefits to the national economy—and to shippers.
Uniting Toward a Common Focus
We are following these same principles through uniting the bi-state region toward a common focus by establishing partnerships that bridge government boundaries, the public and private sector, industries, and transportation modes.
In the past 24 months, nearly $1 billion has been invested in the region’s freight network. Many of the projects funded have been identified in the St. Louis Regional Freightway’s Priority Projects List, representing key infrastructure needs of manufacturing and logistics industries in the region. The annual list is a valuable tool to align and amplify advocacy for support and funding for critical infrastructure improvements, and currently includes 21 projects representing a $2.2 billion total investment. Half that amount covers projects already under construction or funded and expected to start soon.
These include the $222 million project to replace the Merchants Bridge over the Mississippi River, one of America’s primary east-west rail corridors serving the third-largest rail hub in the country. The public-private partnership delivering this multimodal rail project is an example of success when you follow the USDOT NFSP.
We also continue to develop partnerships to establish new transportation links with coastal ports to facilitate cargo movement between America’s Heartland and overseas destinations via the inland waterway system with containerized cargo.
With USDOT support, we see bi-state regions like the greater St. Louis area helping manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to compete by ensuring they have adequate infrastructure to move freight safely and efficiently.