As part of national freight policy mandate established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21 transportation bill signed into law last July, the Department of Transportation(DOT) is taking steps to establish a national freight advisory committee to provide recommendations aimed at improving the county’s freight transportation system.

Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted in a statement that improving the freight transportation system in the U.S. is what he calls “essential” to help meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

DOT added that the committee with be comprised at least 25 voting members from outside the agency who have various perspectives on freight transportation, including mode, region, policy areas, freight customers and providers, and government entities, and will meet at least three times per year.

A DOT spokesperson told Fleet Owner that all nominations are due within 30 days, with the agency’s goal to hold the committee’s first meeting in the late spring or early summer this year. The spokesperson added that the committee’s focus will be on all modes of freight, with its membership selected with a view toward achieving varied perspectives on freight transportation. 

Establishing such an advisory committee is also part of President Obama’s effort to craft a national freight strategic plan for the country – harkening back to policy efforts undertaken by DOT at the turn of the century via the Office of Freight Management and Operations (OFMO), a department that existed at one time within the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The agency also proposes to designate a “primary freight network” of up to 27,000 miles of existing U.S. interstate and other roadways, with the possible addition of 3,000 miles of existing and planned roadways necessary, to improve the efficient movement of goods in the future. Rulemaking to that effect is now in the Federal Register to gather comments from the public.