Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271
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Freight Capacity for the 21st Century:
Special Report 271



TRB Special Report 271 - Freight Capacity for the 21st Century recommends development of a national policy to promote better management and investment decisions in order to maintain and improve the capacity of the nation's freight system. Keeping up with growth in freight transportation requires better use of current facilities and the funding of projects with the biggest payoffs. To ensure adequate freight capacity, Congress and federal agencies must coordinate the activities of dozens of separately administered programs that affect the system.

This report recommends four principles to guide decisions about using, enlarging, funding, or regulating the freight transportation system:

Capital improvements, such as new roads - as well as operating practices for public facilities - should aim for the greatest usefulness considering all costs;

Local, state, or federal governments should be involved only when they can do the job better than any other entity;

Whenever the primary benefits of a project are lower costs for the facility's users, user fees - not government subsidies - should pay for the capital and operating costs; and

Appropriate choices about financing arrangements should be made at the start of a project.


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165 pages | 6 x 9
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National Research Council. Freight Capacity for the 21st Century: Special Report 271. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

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