Getting America’s Freight Back on the Move

Keith Miller, Kristina Costa, and Donna Cooper offer recommendations for boosting investment in our economically critical freight infrastructure.

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Ports, freight railways, and inland waterways together comprise the backbone of the American economy. Employing over 4.1 million Americans, the U.S. freight transport and warehousing industries are relied upon every day to transport millions of tons of raw materials and finished merchandise to destinations across the nation and around the globe.

But despite its indispensability for sustaining economic growth and ensuring international competitiveness, America’s goods movement system has been allowed to fall into a dangerous state of disrepair. Decades of chronic underinvestment have left the system incapable of keeping up with routine maintenance, let alone sufficiently increasing capacity to accommodate forecasted growth.

The Obama administration understands the gravity of the situation. The president recently announced that seven improvement projects at five major ports would be expedited, with an additional 36 projects to be expedited by executive order in the near future as part of the administration’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative. The administration also announced the creation of a Task Force on Ports to facilitate better cross-agency coordination and help assess the relative importance of projects from a national perspective.

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Keith Miller

Senior Research Associate

Kristina Costa

Senior Fellow

Donna Cooper

Senior Fellow