The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation on November 29 to suggest more “flexible ways” to boost highway mileage designations in support of the nation’s surface freight transport needs.
[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]
“States feel that there is insufficient Primary Highway Freight System [PHFS] mileage to identify the critical freight network overall,” AASHTO said in its letter.
Additionally, the identifying system for such miles within the National Highway Freight Network or NHFN gets “complicated” in terms of making them eligible for funding, the group added.
AASHTO submitted its comments to USDOT as part of notice posted in August by the Federal Highway Administration regarding FHWA’s proposed effort to “re-designate” mileage within the PHFS.
“The flexibility in designating Critical Urban Freight Corridors and Critical Rural Freight Corridors on the NHFN is helpful and necessary in providing states and MPOs [metropolitan planning organizations] the appropriate discretion for their needs,” AASHTO said in its letter.
However, the organization stressed that the “necessity” of convening State Freight Advisory Committees or SFACs is “onerous” in terms of seeking approval for the new mileage under consideration for freight needs.
“While AASHTO and the state DOTs recognize that this process is outlined in federal law and that the SFACs provide important insights, the benefits of convening these community and industry leaders to discuss 18 to 53 new additional miles for their state strains the limited staff capacity and resources,” the group said in its letter.
“For future reauthorization or legislative changes, AASHTO would encourage the consideration of soliciting feedback from state DOT and MPOs directly,” it added.