DOT’S National Freight Plan.

Jim Blaze

A second opinion is offered below.
Does it signal exactly how commercial value will be created?
Any real innovation?
A few points to reconsider.


This National Freight Strategic Plan describes the steps that the U.S. Department of Transportation says it will take to address these challenges. 
It says that the document provides a vision for a national freight system that continues to drive economic growth and well-being while maintaining and improving safety and efficiency. 
It lays out principles and goals to guide a strategic Federal role in freight. 
The Plan describes specific funding programs and initiatives to guide multimodal investments to address safety issues, reduce congestion, improve intermodal connectivity, and support rural communities and industries.
Issues under the signature of:
Elaine L. Chao
United States Secretary of Transportation
Jim Blaze says after a quick review —
Flip to the last few pages (about page 100 or so)
DOT admits it still lacks data necessary to drive smart innovation.
Oh my?  That’s not a good starting point for planners.
“Safety is the U.S. DOT’s top strategic goal.”
Maybe.  But it is not addressed until page 86!
WHERE is the R&D?
The DOT checklist has 19 theoretical “to do” BOXES.
RESEARCH?  18th on the list (see the list on page 85)
There is no real articulated federal sponsored R&D budget.
   — it is all pretty vague.
No actual R&D plan listed out.
Why not?
INSTITUTIONAL BARRIERS AND FINANCIAL ISSUES are listed by the feds on page 76.
  — Feds hand off the “ heavy decision lifting” on page 77 to the States.   “Say what?” 
Things like poor connection “intermodal” connector links have been studied for about five decades starting at the CATS “MPO” early urban goods movement planning group.
Where is the progress report?
US DOT offers none.
INSTEAD, DOT just gives us the latest bad report card update.
That’s not a plan, is it?
Bridge condition issues similarly have been well known for decades.
Publishing this graph is not news — and is not a plan.
9.3.20 (3)
This bridge slide pattern suggests that the DOT sees increasing climatic like changes damaging/threatening transport infrastructure.
Great? But where’s the plan to attack this with funding?
Assertion of a plan — without funding — is simply a recognition of need.  It's not a “here’s how we will fix it plan” statement.
Highway bottleneck map.  Nice.
Been watching this bottleneck map for about three decades.
Fixing it requires fresh money.
Where’s that committed funding?
Without funding, its just a long continuing “wish list”.
The expected long term growth of national rail freight-ton-miles is in fact just as likely now to decline.
That reversal, if true, means rail freight bottlenecks in some areas might decline.  Including around Chicago.
That potential reversal isn’t even recognized in US DOT’s latest conceptual plan statement.
Instead, it’s a statement by DOT to continue on with the Chicago CREATE rail plans as if the strategic assumption of growth dating back to 1972 and the late 1990s are still correct.  They might not be.
Economists recognize that all plans need to be re-evaluated because of changed circumstances.  That is not evident in this 2020 document.  Is it?
9.3.20 (4)
Those are initial reactions by an old planner.  Really old.
Things that I hope DOT will consider as a second opinion by a long time strategic planner.  
What’re your thoughts colleagues?