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NRF Calls for National Freight Transport Policy

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NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay told a conference in Washington last month that Congress needs to include a requirement for a national freight policy when it considers a new transportation funding bill next year.

“Retailers are among the nation’s largest shippers — they move hundreds of billions of dollars worth of merchandise through the nation’s ports, railroads and highways each year,” Shay said. “The condition of our transportation system and its ability to handle cargo quickly, efficiently and safely are vital to retailers’ success. Infrastructure investments must keep up with the expected demand for freight movement.”

Shay spoke at a November transportation summit that featured House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and a variety of private sector representatives.

Shay said lack of funding has created bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the nation’s transportation system that make it difficult for American companies to grow. He said policy is needed that would address funding for both national and regional projects to improve how goods move, reduce congestion and address environmental and safety issues.

The transportation funding bill passed in 2012 called for a formal national freight policy, but the law expires in September 2014. A special House panel recently recommended that next year’s funding bill include a broad, “multimodal” freight policy that would cover railroads and ships as well as trucks.