Politics seem to be more divisive than ever, and campaigns seem to never end. The one thing that unites Americans across political and ideological lines is the need for good transportation options, and their overwhelming support for our national passenger railroad, Amtrak.
Red, blue or purple, recent polls across America in places like Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois and North Dakota have shown huge support for Amtrak as a necessary transportation link for Americans. In other words, Americans who may disagree on a whole host of issues – from the role of government to the environment and taxes – seem to like their trains and want more of them.
A column by SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytkind informing lawmakers about the public’s support for Amtrak was published April 16 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In response to the column, Missouri State Legislative Director Ken Menges told Previsich and Transportation Division National Legislative Director James Stem, “Your timing was impeccable. Just today (April 16), there was a hearing in the state Senate about a new transportation tax. The proposal has already passed in the House. Also, I am meeting now with a citizens’ passenger rail group about improving passenger rail transportation here in Missouri. Thank you for your leadership.”
The column by Previsich and Wytkind reads:
Stark divisions have defined our national politics for some time. But there are many transportation issues that unite Americans across political lines, and one of those is overwhelming support for passenger rail in this country, and in particular, for Amtrak.
Recent polls in America’s heartland have shown huge support for our national passenger rail system, Amtrak.
Missouri is no exception.
Red, blue or purple, 82 percent of Missourians want to increase or maintain passenger rail service in the state. And seven in 10 want to increase or maintain Amtrak’s current funding levels, according to a survey conducted by DFM Research. The elected leaders who will hold Amtrak’s fate in their hands during this congressional session need to recognize an important fact uncovered by this poll — the support for Amtrak is deep, and it is nonpartisan.
It’s not only in St. Louis and Kansas City that support for Amtrak is high. Even in northern, central and southern Missouri, where ridership is lower – and voters tend to be more conservative – strong majorities say they value passenger rail service and want to fund it.
The polls measure support that has been very real on station platforms for several years. Nationwide, Amtrak ridership is at an all-time high. About 31.6 million passengers rode Amtrak last year, thanks to increased use of routes in all regions, not just in the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor. The railroad’s ridership has set records in 10 of the last 11 years, and is up more than 50 percent since 2000.
Here in Missouri, ridership on all Amtrak lines, including the Missouri River Runner, the Texas Eagle and the Southwest Chief, reached 774,000 last year, up 4.7 percent from 2012.
The Missouri findings mirror those of recent polls in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas and Kentucky. Clearly, Americans understand that a well-financed, well-maintained passenger rail network is essential to an integrated national transportation system.
Investing in Amtrak and the development it attracts is also good business. Since 2010, every federal dollar invested in Amtrak pours $3 back into the economy. That’s why many business leaders understand that long-term economic growth depends on investment in our multi-modal transportation infrastructure – and expanded passenger rail must be part of the picture.
To deliver on what the people of Missouri want will require more federal investment and an end to the political attacks on Amtrak and its employees that seem to spring up annually. Amtrak is operating with infrastructure that was built in the middle of the last century, and yet Americans continue to ride on Amtrak in record numbers – and to tell Congress they want and need more rail service.
But a well-funded and accessible Amtrak system isn’t all that Missourians say they want. They also want the freight trains that traverse annually across Missouri carrying 16 million tons of freight (including more than 24,000 carloads of chemicals) to be as safe as possible. About 8 in 10 Missourians agree that one-person freight train crews should be barred in favor of mandatory two-person crew operations. This is not an academic debate. There are single-member freight train crews out there — in fact, last year’s fiery crash of a freight train in Quebec was run by a one-person crew. Fortunately, legislation is pending before Congress that would make two-person crews mandatory, just the way Missourians would have it.
Political views and ideology aside, the people of Missouri clearly want more Amtrak service, not less. They also want freight trains that are safe and properly crewed. It is time for lawmakers, with the rewrite of federal rail laws now pending, to tone down the partisanship and start listening to what Missourians and the vast majority of Americans are saying.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration April 9 announced its intention to issue a proposed rule requiring two-person train crews on crude oil trains and establishing minimum crew size standards for most main line freight and passenger rail operations. The FRA also intends to advance a rulemaking on train securement and recommends a rulemaking on the movement of hazardous materials.
“Safety is our highest priority, and we are committed to taking the necessary steps to assure the safety of those who work for railroads and shippers, and the residents and communities along shipping routes,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The proposed rulemaking on crew size is the latest effort in our comprehensive strategy to ensure crude oil is transported as safely as possible.”
The announcement follows the deliberations of three Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) Working Groups on Appropriate Train Crew Size, Securement and Hazardous Materials Issues. All three working groups were created at DOT’s request last summer in response to the Lac-Mégantic derailment. The emergency meeting was held to evaluate and consider wide-ranging proposals to further enhance railroad safety including the safe shipment of crude oil by rail. Two of the working groups produced recommendations that were adopted by the full RSAC for consideration in future rulemakings. In light of the working group’s failure to reach consensus on crew size, the FRA took action today to move forward with a rule-making.
“We believe that safety is enhanced with the use of a multiple person crew – safety dictates that you never allow a single point of failure,” FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said. “Ensuring that trains are adequately staffed for the type of service operated is critically important to ensure safety redundancy. We commend the RSAC’s efforts and will use the valuable input received to formulate a proposed rule that protects the public and recognizes the nuance of railroad operations.”
“The FRA’s RSAC process confirmed that rail operational safety is enhanced with the use of a multiple-person crew,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich. “Both the conductor and locomotive engineer are certified and licensed under federal regulations and work cooperatively as a team. During this working group process, the committee also confirmed that there are many required tasks that are performed by our train crews each day in normal operations that a single crew member cannot perform by themselves.
“It takes two skilled and qualified employees to perform a normal brake test, to separate a train at a highway-rail crossing, to receive and acknowledge mandatory directives while moving, to make routine pick up and set out of cars from the train, and also to act as a first responder for indicated defects in equipment, derailments, unexpected application of brakes, and highway-rail crossing collisions.”
While existing FRA regulations do not mandate minimum crew staffing requirements, current industry practice is to have two-person crews for over-the-road operations. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will most likely require a minimum of two-person crews for most mainline train operations, including those trains carrying crude oil. It is also expected to include appropriate exceptions.
“Safety is good business in the rail industry. We are very disappointed that the Association of American Railroads and some short line railroads continue to keep their head in the sand when confronted with critical safety concerns. AAR continues to ignore the preventable accident that occurred less than 20 miles north of our border,” Previsich added.
FRA plans to issue an additional NPRM based on the consensus recommendations of the Securement Working Group and approved by the full RSAC that would prohibit certain unattended freight trains or standing freight cars on main track or sidings and require railroads to adopt and implement procedures to verify securement of trains and unattended equipment for emergency responders. It would also require locomotive cabs to be locked and reversers to be removed and secured. Railroads would also be required to obtain advance approval from FRA for locations or circumstances where unattended cars or equipment may be left.
The full RSAC also approved four recommendations of the Hazardous Materials Issues Working Group relating to identification, classification, operational control and handling of certain shipments. The four recommendations, directed to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), include amending or revising the definitions of “residue” and “key train,” and clarifying its regulatory jurisdiction over the loading, unloading and storage of hazmat before and during transportation. PHMSA continues to advance a rulemaking addressing the integrity of DOT Specification 111 tanker cars and the safe shipment by rail of flammable materials such as crude oil.
On Aug. 29, 2013, the first-ever emergency session of the RSAC was held in response to the July 6, 2013, derailment of an unattended Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway freight train containing crude oil in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada. Building upon Foxx’s February agreement with the rail and petroleum industries, the FRA’s Emergency Order 28 and Safety Advisory 2013-06, PHMSA’s Operation Safe Delivery, Safety Alerts and a DOT Emergency Order, the three RSAC working groups reviewed existing regulations and standards to identify and mitigate the risks posed by such shipments and prevent future accidents.
“The unfortunate tragedy in Lac-Mégantic highlighted the need for sanity in intercity rail operations,” said SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director James Stem. “Operating a long freight train through the communities that our industry serves with only one person on a crew is not only unsafe, but is also unsustainable.
“The safety improvements in our industry are directly linked to the training and certification of the two professionals on the locomotives and the other professional employees and their managers that are operating, repairing and maintaining our rail network throughout the United States. Our rail industry today is enjoying record profits, record productivity, and every stock broker is recommending a ‘buy’ on all railroad stocks. There is no argument that the current regulatory scheme in place today is a critical component of that productivity, and thus the high level of profitability.”
In the March issue of the SMART Transportation Division News, we celebrate the 100th birthday of former President Al Chesser, the very first elected president of the United Transportation Union. This is a remarkable achievement for a remarkable man! Brother Chesser’s history of commitment and dedication to this organization and all of organized labor is legendary and serves as an inspiration to all who are involved in today’s labor movement.
It was a pleasure to be able to attend this event in person and to extend my congratulations. We wish Al a very happy birthday, with many more to follow.
In prior columns, I have touched on the upcoming conventions for both the SMART Transportation Division and the SMART International. In order to keep our membership updated, I am summarizing here the information recently communicated to our SMART Transportation Division delegates.
All delegates to the SMART Transportation Division Convention from June 30 – July 2 in San Diego have been advised of the importance of attending both of this summer’s conventions and have been informed to also make arrangements to attend the SMART General Convention in Las Vegas from Aug. 11-15.
Any decisions or actions taken by delegates at the Transportation Division Convention with regard to proposed amendments to Article 21B of the SMART Constitution must be properly referred to the delegates at the SMART General Convention for handling before any proposed amendments can become effective. Additionally, all delegates attending the SMART General Convention will be acting upon all proposed constitutional changes properly submitted to the full SMART Constitution, including Article 21B.
Pursuant to Article 33, Sec. 1 (e), lines 19-20, a two-thirds majority of the delegates present at the SMART General Convention is required to enact such amendments.
All delegates properly seated at the Transportation Division Convention will also be seated as delegates at the SMART General Convention, and as such, it is absolutely imperative that they attend the SMART General Convention in order to properly cast their votes on any and all proposed SMART Constitution amendments.
If, for any reason, a local delegate is not able to attend the SMART General Convention in August, it is respectfully requested that measures be taken to allow for the alternate delegate to attend. If neither the delegate nor alternate delegate is able to attend both conventions, it may be necessary to elect a new delegate who will be able to attend both conventions. This will allow for consistent handling of all proposed amendments to Article 21B at the SMART General Convention, as well as making a local’s voice – and votes – count in the handling of all matters before the delegation.
I thank all local officers for their dedication to the organization and all delegates for taking the time to serve our membership at both the Transportation Division Convention and the SMART General Convention.
It is important to remember that the outcome of these conventions will be a constitution that will govern the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers for years to come. The responsibility of preserving the principles on which the organization was founded rests with the officers and delegates and depends on our full participation at both conventions.
By John Previsich, SMART Transportation Division President –
2014 is shaping up to be a remarkable year in the history of our union. The SMART constitution is now finalized and we are moving forward with the ongoing effort to merge our two organizations into one.
For those who have not yet viewed the arbitration decision or the new SMART Constitution, they can be found on the Transportation Division’s website at www.utu.org by selecting merger under the Updates tab, or on the SMART website at www.smart-union.org by using the search term “constitution.”
In addition to the integration, a number of other issues will demand our attention throughout the year. To begin, we will have two conventions this year – one for the SMART Transportation Division (formerly UTU) from June 30 – July 2, 2014 and another for the SMART organization from Aug. 11 – 15, 2014.
As advised in my Jan. 24 letter to all SMART TD officers, general chairpersons, state legislative boards and local unions, proposed amendments to the SMART Constitution’s Article 21B may be submitted by any subordinate body of the Transportation Division no later than March 2, 2014.
Both conventions are equally important. Delegates at the Transportation Division convention will elect officers to serve the Division in the upcoming term starting Oct. 1, 2014. In addition, delegates will debate constitutional amendments that are submitted to the Transportation Division for consideration and will make recommendations on whether such amendments should be adopted or rejected by the delegates to the SMART convention.
Delegates to the Transportation Division convention are also delegates to the SMART convention and it is very important that our delegates attend both conventions to convey the wishes of their members to the governing body. If your local does not have a duly elected delegate and alternate delegate in place at this time, your local president or secretary should contact my office immediately at (216) 228-9400.
The Transportation Division staff stands ready to assist your local in ensuring your delegate or alternate will be seated at these conventions. In addition, Transportation Division locals may be entitled to have more than one delegate attend the SMART convention in August. Details on how to determine the number of delegates to which your local may be entitled and procedures for electing additional delegates will be published soon.
Another item of business in the coming year is the commencement of negotiations for a national rail contract. We will soon begin the process of formulating the Section 6 notices to be served on the carriers.
The process starts with input from our members in the field on what is important for a new contract, and that input is essential to the preparation of Section 6 notices that reflect the needs and desires of our membership.
Other issues of interest are implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the many health care plans that cover our members, mid-term congressional elections, our organizing efforts that have produced great results in both our short line and bus departments and our continued legislative success in fending off attacks on Railroad Retirement and Amtrak.
Overall, we look forward to the challenges that lie ahead and to the successes that we will continue to achieve on behalf of our members.
We are pleased, as your general president and transportation division president, to present the first SMART Constitution and ritual to our membership. This is a milestone for both the former Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and the United Transportation Union, that have merged to become the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. While our merger has been complete for some time, this document solidifies this great union and its membership under a single constitution. It is impossible to speak to the success in completing this constitution without acknowledging both the hard work and the frustration of those who participated in the creation of the document and the membership who have waited patiently throughout this long and difficult process. The path has led both of us to take positions on interpretation of our separate constitutions and the merger agreement. In getting there, as would be expected of your leadership, we examined and debated every constitutional section thoroughly before agreement. At times, it required the help of an outside arbitrator to clarify a particular issue. While this slowed the process, it must be remembered the parties were tasked with blending 100 years of separate cultural and operational methods into a single constitution that would govern our organization. Throughout this process, both of us have recognized that, in the end, what matters is the importance of having a document that serves the best interests of all the membership of SMART. So, we are jointly resolved to move forward as an organization under one constitution and ritual, with a single focus. We, as your leadership, are dedicated to working collectively to provide a transparent and accountable organization that will strive to provide fair and reasoned representation to our membership and the efficiency of operation necessary to expand work opportunities for our members. To view the SMART Constitution, click here. To view a letter to all delegates attending the 2014 SMART Transportation Division Convention and First SMART International Convention, click here (This corrects and replaces the original posting from 1/14/2014.). To view questions and answers regarding the SMART Convention/Constitution, click here (03/18/14) Fraternally and in solidarity, Joseph J. Nigro, General President John Previsich, President, Transportation Division
In this communication, my first to you as president of this great organization, I will begin by saying that I am honored by the opportunity to serve in this capacity. One of my goals for this administration is to be transparent in every way, allowing you, the membership for whom we work, to be aware and informed of the issues that affect you and your union.
Accordingly, I want to update you on a number of initiatives that are currently in progress at our offices in Cleveland and Washington. To begin, I will address the merger between Sheet Metal Workers International Association and United Transportation Union, an issue first and foremost in the minds of members at every meeting that I have had the opportunity to attend.
The merger agreement provided that the constitutions of the UTU and the SMWIA were to be combined into a single constitution for the new International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’ union (SMART). Both the merger agreement and the subsequent arbitration award pertaining to implementation directed the parties to meet and resolve conflicts between the constitutions of the two organizations.
Accordingly, the parties met for extended periods on numerous occasions throughout 2012 and 2013 and have made excellent progress in reconciling conflicts between our respective constitutions. Nonetheless, in mid-2013, it became apparent to all involved that although we had accomplished much of the necessary work, additional direction from the arbitrator was needed in order to finalize the remaining issues. The parties submitted their respective views on the items still unresolved to the arbitrator and, at the time of this writing, are still awaiting an award that will offer guidance to move us to conclusion.
In order to meet all of the constitutional and regulatory requirements that apply to the two organizations, the former UTU – now SMART Transportation Division – convention originally scheduled for 2015 will be held June 30 – July 2, 2014, in San Diego, Calif. This will be followed by the first SMART convention to be held Aug. 11-15, 2014, in Las Vegas. Details regarding the two conventions are still being finalized and additional information will be distributed as soon as it becomes available.
Of course, the day-to-day business of representing our members continues without interruption. Among countless other initiatives, we are working hard in Washington to advance H.R. 3040, legislation that is intended to require two-person crews on trains. The Affordable Care Act and the recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex spousal benefits require careful handling to ensure compliance, without negatively impacting the benefits enjoyed by our members who are currently a part of the National Health and Welfare Plan. And, our Organizing Department is continuing to lead all others in successfully organizing properties where the employees have sought union representation.
In matters of negotiations, we are assisting general chairpersons in contract negotiations with numerous bus companies and passenger and short line railroads around the country. In addition, we have recently requested proffers of arbitration from the National Mediation Board on two properties, one rail and one air. We have received and rejected the proffer on the rail property and are hopeful that the proffer requested on behalf of our brothers and sisters on the airline property will soon be granted by the NMB. Once received, a proffer may then be rejected and the parties advance to the next level in the process of getting to self-help.
The foregoing is a brief update on just some of the many efforts underway to protect and improve the working conditions of our members. In future articles, I will expand on each of these items and also discuss what’s ahead in 2014.
While politicians can’t agree on much, Iowans and the majority of Americans surely agree on one thing: They want more Amtrak service, not less.
On the heaviest traveled passenger rail corridor in the nation, the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak keeps breaking ridership records. But the untold story is that in a large swath of less-traveled rail corridors in middle America, including Iowa, people want Congress to keep investing in and expanding Amtrak service.
It is time for Congress to listen and stop pursuing risky defunding and private contracting schemes.
Amtrak recently reported that its trains carried a record 31.6 million passengers last year, up from 20 million in 2000. And ridership on the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief lines, which traverse Iowa across southern counties, also saw a healthy spike in ridership.
No wonder a new poll of Iowans conducted by St. Paul, Minn.-based DFM Research shows that more than seven out of 10 residents in Polk County and the southwestern counties of the state want to increase federal government investment in Amtrak, or at the very least keep it the same.
So why are some in Congress constantly pointing to federal spending on Amtrak as wasteful?
If members of Congress listen, they will hear a message loud and clear on an issue that is a vital part of every American’s life. Whether they live in red or blue states, in crowded cities or rural areas, in southwestern Iowa or in Polk County, are Republicans or Democrats, old or young, Americans want to ride Amtrak.
In Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District that encompasses Des Moines, the message couldn’t have been any clearer. Among Democrats, the keep-or-increase percentage rises to 87 percent, while 64 percent of independents agree and a hefty 59 percent of Republicans agree.
Even among those who have not ridden Amtrak in recent years, 72 percent want to keep or increase the passenger railroad’s federal funding.
These findings aren’t limited to Iowa. In six middle-America states — Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri — 70 percent of the people say they want more Amtrak service, and they want the government to fund it.
In other words, Amtrak isn’t a blue state thing or a red state thing. It is an American thing.
Tens of thousands of Iowans who value their Amtrak service are increasingly taking the train each year and seek more connections to cities such as Chicago. The business community has joined the choir as well, understanding that passenger rail expansion is good for business and job creation. And for good reason: For every $1 Iowa spends in this sector about $4 is injected back into the state’s economy.
This is a no-brainer during the still anemic economic recovery.
Members of Congress need to get that message, and get it fast, as they prepare to rewrite the law that governs and funds Amtrak and that will decide who in Iowa and other parts of middle America will get to keep their service or ride new train service.
Americans’ appetite for Amtrak service is growing regardless of their political views. This train has long left the station, and the American public is on board.
The preceding column was co-authored by SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich and AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Edward Wytkind. It was published Oct. 28 by the Des Moines Register.
By John Previsich, SMART Transportation Division President –
Employment for our members in the transportation industry is distinguished in many respects. Regardless of mode – air, bus or rail – it is primarily an industry that operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, with its employees often unscheduled and subject to call at a moment’s notice. It is not unusual for transportation employees to have no scheduled days off, no advanced knowledge of whether they will be working or at home on a holiday, birthday or other special event, and no way of knowing when asked by friends or relatives what they are doing next week, this weekend, or even tomorrow.
While such conditions may appear to be very different than those of our members in other, more scheduled work environments, one need only look at the commonalities between the industries to see that our members in the Transportation Division have much more in common with our Sheet Metal brothers and sisters than may be evident at first look.
To begin with, nearly all members of the SMART organization are professionals who work highly skilled positions in a safety sensitive environment. Whether working on a job site in the construction industry, operating machinery in a production environment or moving passengers or freight on trains, planes or buses, our members hold responsible positions that require a great deal of training and education.
All of the craftwork is safety sensitive and unforgiving – from a misstep on a job site to a lapse of concentration while operating a locomotive or landing a plane, to a momentary diversion of attention while operating a bus or a production machine, the results of an error can be catastrophic.
That is why adequate training is such an important part of what we strive for, from the union-operated training facilities to the continual and rigorous oversight of our training agreements on the transportation properties that we represent.
But training by itself isn’t enough. In addition to our members mastering their crafts and showing up for duty adequately trained and prepared to work, safety also depends on proper workplace management, a responsibility that rests squarely on the shoulders of the companies and owners for whom we work.
Far too often, we hear of incidents where management blames the worker instead of the faulty work site. Far too often, the union has to step in and remind the regulatory agencies of their oversight responsibilities and, far too often, our members suffer from the unsafe work environments handed to us by our employers and for the lax regulation that allows such practices to continue.
It is the responsibility of management to provide us with a safe place to work and your union is second to none in advocating for improved safety on behalf of its membership.
This advocacy to improve safety is an area that well illustrates the benefits that can be derived from the synergy of the merged organizations. Both of our predecessor unions possess expertise in training, safety and regulatory affairs. That expertise, when coupled together, is expected to be more effective working as an integrated unit than either was before.
We hope to learn from each other, taking advantage of the skills that both unions bring to the table, to be stronger than ever in ensuring the safe workplace to which our members are entitled. This process has already commenced, with our legislative departments collaborating on safety issues at the federal, state and local levels. It is anticipated that these synergies will provide even more positive results as the integration progresses.
Increasing the contributions of the SMART Transportation Division’s input in shaping public transportation policy, SMART Transportation Division General Secretary & Treasurer John Previsich May 30 was named to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Freight Advisory Committee by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.
The committee is a diverse group of professionals that will provide advice and recommendations aimed at improving the national freight transportation system.
LaHood said a strong freight transportation system is critical to the nation’s economy and is essential for helping meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
“The strength of our economy and the strength of our national freight system go hand in hand,” LaHood said. “The members of this committee understand firsthand the critical importance of freight movement, and their valuable insight will help ensure that our system is more secure and better connected.”
Previsich was nominated for the panel by SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey.
“This appointment will permit the concerns of our members in the rail, airline and bus transportation industries to be placed squarely on the table for consideration and inclusion in the talks leading to the establishment of a ‘national freight plan’ for the 21st century,” Previsich said.
“The inclusion of labor representatives at the highest level of such discussions is an opportunity for input into the decision making process that will benefit our members, and all of labor, for years to come.
“The Obama administration deserves credit for ensuring that the interests of working people are a part of the nation’s long term transportation planning.”
Members of the committee provide various perspectives on freight transportation and represent various modes of transportation, geographic regions, and policy areas. Freight customers and providers, labor representatives, safety experts and government entities are all represented.
By engaging members representing diverse interests, the committee will provide recommendations to the secretary of transportation on how DOT can improve its freight transportation policies and programs.
The DOT solicited nominations in February and LaHood selected members with input from the MAP-21 Freight Implementation Team, as well as the Freight Policy Council, an internal body of DOT leadership created to facilitate cross-modal implementation of freight provisions in the recently signed surface transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21. MAP-21 established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan.
Over the last four years, the Obama Administration has made considerable investments in our national freight network. Through four rounds of the TIGER Grant program, DOT has directed $1 billion toward projects that primarily address freight. This includes more than $650 million to projects that strengthen freight rail infrastructure, reduce freight bottlenecks and alleviate congestion issues.
Members will serve two-year terms and meet at least three times per year. The first NFAC meeting is scheduled for June 25, 2013, at the Department of Transportation and will include an overview of MAP-21 freight provisions and preliminary identification of NFAC activities.