Trucking operations that face congested highways and bottlenecks have another month to weigh in on specific routes that should receive priority for federal funding. In November, the Federal Highway Administration proposed to designated about 27,000 mi. of highway considered critical to the future efficient movement of goods as the highway a Primary Freight Network (PFN). Projects to improve the efficiency of those roads designated as part of the PFN would qualify for higher funding priority and a higher federal share of funding. Comments on the proposed designation were due Dec. 19, but several organizations asked for more time to respond. So FHWA extended the comment period until Jan. 17, 2014.
The PFN is part of a broader National Freight Network (NFN) mandated by Section 1115 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP–21). In addition to the PFN, the NFN includes Critical Rural Freight Corridors (CRFC), which are established by states, and portions of the interstate highway system not designated as part of the PFN.
Congress defined eight factors to consider in designating the highway PFN:
- Origins and destinations of freight movement in the United States;
- Total freight tonnage and value of freight moved by highways;
- Percentage of annual average daily truck traffic in the annual average daily traffic on principal arterials;
- Annual average daily truck traffic on principal arterials;
- Land and maritime ports of entry;
- Access to energy exploration, development, installation, or production areas;
- Population centers; and
- Network connectivity
FHWA sought comments on specific route deletions, additions or changes in its draft designation of the highway PFN as well as the methodology the agency used. It also sought comments on how the NFN and its components could be used by freight stakeholders in the future and on how the NFN might fit into a multimodal National Freight System.