The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) welcomed the recent release of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) "Report to Congress on National Highway System (NHS) Intermodal Freight Connectors." The report, requested by Congress under the provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), reviews connectors to seaports, airports, and major intermodal terminals to determine: (1) their condition; (2) improvements or investments made or planned; and, (3) impediments and options to making improvements.
According to AAPA President Kurt J. Nagle, "The study confirms concerns that ports have expressed for years that freight projects are not getting a fair share of investment dollars. The Department and Congress should review the current funding programs and look at options tailored to promote funding for freight mobility and port access
According to the report, intermodal connectors represent 1,222 out of the 161,000 NHS miles. Connectors to ports, as opposed to other freight terminals, received the smallest level of funding and were found to be in the worst condition, having twice the percentage of mileage with pavement deficiencies when compared to non-interstate NHS routes.
The report indicates that when the top five projects per category are excluded, the level of investments for ports appears to be very low ($40,600/mile). This is less than 40 percent of the average for the NHS ($102,100/mile), especially considering that ports exhibit the most deficiencies overall.
The report notes that: "States and MPOs often see freight as a low priority when compared with the pressing needs of passenger travel. NHS connectors are 'orphans' in the traditional State and MPO planning processes. The generally low profile of freight operations in the community, and the fact that freight operations are conducted by the private sector, creates challenges for focusing local public sector interest and resources on freight movement. Consistent with freight initiatives in general, the challenge for NHS freight connectors is competition for public transportation funding resources."