AASHTO Journal, 22 November 2013
The Federal Highway Administration on Monday announced through the Federal Register the set of highways it believes should be included in the highway Primary Freight Network (PFN), which was mandated in the current surface transportation law, MAP-21. Stakeholders are invited to comment on the proposed PFN through Dec. 19.
In accordance with MAP-21, the Transportation Secretary must designate up to 27,000 existing miles of interstate and other roadways, along with the possibility of 3,000 miles in the future, as part of the PFN. The hope is that doing so will help states direct resources in a strategic manner to improve freight movement.
While MAP-21 calls for a 27,000-mile system, the Federal Register notice “identifies more than 41,000 miles of comprehensive, connected roadways that a FHWA analysis shows would be necessary to transporting goods efficiently on highways throughout the nation to make up the highway PFN.”
FHWA is encouraging comments on all aspects of the proposal, including the routes tapped for “final initial designation of the PFN,” the size and criteria for the highway PFN, and uses for the network.
At the AASHTO Annual Meeting last month in Denver, the AASHTO Board of Directors passed a resolution that called for greater flexibility in designating additional segments beyond the National Freight Network’s mileage cap of 30,000.
“We applaud the difficult task FHWA has tackled in developing a Primary National Freight Network, limited in its mileage and scope by MAP-21,” said AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright. “State transportation departments look forward to continuing the dialogue with our federal partners in developing a network that truly reflects the nature and dynamics of freight mobility in our nation.”
FHWA’s highway PFN proposal was drafted based on several factors, including the origins and destinations of freight, shipment tonnage, population, and traffic volumes.