By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA 

A first-ever federal multi-modal goods movement strategy aims to boost supply chain efficiency and strengthen economic competitiveness while adapting to expanding e-commerce and extreme weather challenges. It seeks to improve safety, modernize operations, increase competitiveness, and work with states, which are required to update their own multimodal plans.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP) highlights the integral role roads and bridges play in a functioning multimodal freight system. Its emphasis on the rise of e-commerce reinforced this point. Whether goods travel by air, port or rail, the “last mile” of delivery is inevitably by truck, Federal Highway Administrator Nicole Nason said during a Sept. 3 release event.

The plan identifies funding as one of the key barriers toward achieving its goals and suggests regulatory reform should also be undertaken to modernize the freight program. But it did not include any specifics about how to pay for such a program.

The NFSP was first authorized by Congress in the 2015 FAST Act surface transportation law, which expires Sept. 30. ARTBA participated in the development of the plan by submitting comments and attending stakeholder engagement sessions. The plan incorporates some key ARTBA priorities, such as recognizing the growing importance of e-commerce. The association will continue to engage with U.S.DOT during implementation of the NFSP, which will be updated in five years, and the reauthorization process.