CAGTC proposes the creation of a National Strategic Freight Mobility Program and Trust Fund (FTF). Such an approach can create an expanded national freight program to balance and separate the interests of freight and passengers, especially if based on user fees and funding from outside traditional sources. We call on Congress and the Administration to commit to exploring sustainable revenue sources across all modes. Such an approach need not be overly burdensome; for example, capturing a small fraction of the value of the commodities moved would generate considerable revenue.
While all possible funding sources should be considered, the FTF would best be served by a combination of new national freight fees and existing highway trust funds, as supported by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission’s report, Transportation for Tomorrow. Additionally, a fair contribution — such as a portion of increased fuel taxes or the freight fees that are currently dedicated to the Highway Trust Fund, including excise taxes on truck tires and tractors — from the Federal Highway Trust Fund could appropriately reflect benefits that accrue to the broader motoring public. While the FTF would provide a dedicated source for freight project funding, participation in this program would not preclude projects from seeking funding from existing federal, state and local sources, reflecting the multiple benefits they can provide to local communities as well as to national freight movement.
Ultimately, the price of goods should support and internalize a portion of the cost of expanding related infrastructure, such that growth in demand for moving goods delivers proportional funding for related infrastructure improvement.