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Report to the Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

June 2007: 

Intermodal Transportation: 

DOT Could Take Further Actions to Address Intermodal Barriers: 

GAO-07-718: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-07-718, a report to the Chairman, Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Intermodal transportation enables freight and passengers to cross 
between different modes of transportation efficiently and can improve 
mobility, reduce congestion, and cut costs. In 1991 Congress called for 
a National Intermodal Transportation System and created the Office of 
Intermodalism within the Department of Transportation (DOT). However, 
as GAO and others have reported, there are barriers to planning and 
implementing intermodal projects. GAO’s report examines (1) barriers 
that inhibit intermodal transportation; (2) actions DOT has taken to 
address these barriers and support Congress’ goal; and (3) additional 
actions, if any, that DOT could take to better address barriers. GAO 
analyzed information from DOT and transportation experts and talked 
with transportation officials from various states and localities 
throughout the country. 

What GAO Found: 

Three key barriers inhibit intermodal transportation, according to 
federal, state, and local officials and published studies: limited 
federal funding targeted to such projects, in part due to statutory 
requirements; limited collaboration among the many entities and 
jurisdictions involved; and limited ability to evaluate the benefits of 
such projects. For example, officials in one state reported difficulty 
in securing funds to repair roads connecting port and rail facilities 
to nearby highways, because the nationwide benefits from increasing 
freight mobility were both difficult to quantify and not considered in 
the local transportation planning process. These three barriers impede 
state and local agencies’ ability to carry out intermodal projects and 
limit DOT’s ability to implement Congress’ goal of a national 
intermodal transportation system. 

DOT—through several of its operating administrations and the Office of 
Intermodalism—has taken a number of actions to address each barrier and 
support Congress’ goal, but these actions fall short of creating a 
coordinated approach. Actions taken include distributing guidance on 
obtaining funding, creating working groups to improve collaboration, 
and developing a framework for a national freight policy. In addition, 
DOT proposed a reorganization in 1995 to enhance its approach to 
intermodal transportation and improve collaboration, but Congress did 
not approve it. While DOT has taken actions to address intermodal 
barriers and Congress’ goal, no one office is coordinating these 
actions across the department. The Office of Intermodalism, which has 
responsibility for initiating and coordinating federal intermodal 
policy, is primarily focused on research and analysis. Furthermore, DOT 
is limited in its ability to address funding issues, due to the federal 
funding structure of transportation programs. 

GAO’s analysis of published studies and discussions with state and 
local officials surfaced some actions that DOT could take to better 
address barriers: increasing collaboration between DOT’s own operating 
administrations and improving the availability of intermodal guidance 
and resources. In addition, designating one office or operating 
administration to be responsible for coordinating these and other DOT 
efforts to address barriers would help in moving toward Congress’ 
vision of a National Intermodal Transportation System. However, DOT and 
the Congress also face other transportation challenges, including the 
financial condition of the Highway Trust Fund, the lack of assurance 
that projects that best meet mobility needs are being selected and 
funded, and the increase in congestion on all transportation modes. 
These challenges led GAO to suggest in prior work that DOT and Congress 
reassess all transportation modes to determine the appropriate federal 
role and funding strategies, and develop ways to monitor investments. 
Actions to improve intermodal transportation would need to be 
considered in the context of these current challenges. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends that the Secretary of Transportation direct one office 
or administration to lead and coordinate intermodal efforts at the 
federal level by improving collaboration and the availability of 
intermodal guidance and resources. 

DOT agreed to consider GAO’s recommendation and provided technical 
comments that GAO incorporated, as appropriate. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-718]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Katherine Siggerud, 202-
512-2834, siggerudk@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Three Key Barriers Inhibit Intermodal Transportation: 

DOT Is Taking Action to Address Barriers and Implement Congress' Goal, 
but Efforts Are Not Coordinated by One Office: 

DOT Could Take Actions in the Near Term to Further Address Intermodal 
Barriers: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendation for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Comments from Department of Transportation: 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Bibliography: 

Related GAO Products: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Overview of Selected DOT Ongoing Actions to Address Intermodal 
Barriers: 

Table 2: Description of Some Federal Programs that Can Fund Intermodal 
Projects: 

Table 3: List of Transportation Agencies and Organizations Contacted: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Example of Intermodal Transportation for Freight: 

Figure 2: Example of Intermodal Transportation for Passengers: 

Figure 3: Freight Rail Congestion in Chicago: 

Figure 4: Computer Model of the Completed Miami Central Station: 

Figure 5: Computer Model of the Warwick Intermodal Facility: 

Abbreviations: 

BTS: Bureau of Transportation Statistics: 

CMAQ: Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality: 

DOT: Department of Transportation: 

FAA: Federal Aviation Administration: 

FHWA: Federal Highway Administration: 

FMCSA: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: 

FRA: Federal Railroad Administration: 

FTA: Federal Transit Administration: 

ISTEA: Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991: 

MARAD: Maritime Administration: 

MPO: Metropolitan Planning Organization: 

MTS: Marine Transportation System: 

NCHRP: National Cooperative Highway Research Program: 

NHS: National Highway System: 

NHTSA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 

OST: Office of the Secretary of Transportation: 

OST-P: Office of the Secretary of Transportation for Policy: 

PFC: Passenger facility charges: 

RITA: Research and Innovative Technology Administration: 

RRIF: Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing: 

SAFETEA-LU: Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity 
Act: A Legacy for Users: 

SIB: State Infrastructure Bank: 

TPCB: Transportation Planning Capacity Building: 

TEA-21: Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century: 

TIFIA: Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 
1998: 

TRB: Transportation Research Board: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

June 20, 2007: 

The Honorable James L. Oberstar: 
Chairman: 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: 
House of Representatives: 

Dear Chairman Oberstar: 

The United States' transportation system consists of different modes-- 
including roads, aviation, mass transit systems, railroads, and 
waterways--which connect, intersect, and play a critical role in 
providing the American public with the mobility needed to sustain 
national and international economic viability. Often, freight and 
passenger trips are intermodal in nature, in that freight and 
passengers use more than one mode to complete a journey. For example, a 
freight container may travel by ship to a port where it is transferred 
to a rail car, and then to a truck to complete its journey. However, 
this mobility is threatened by congestion across modes, which is 
expected to increase in the coming years. Intermodal transportation 
projects to improve the connections and intersections between modes can 
reduce congestion and costs for freight and passenger travel by 
improving mobility. For example, the Alameda Corridor project in the 
Los Angeles area created a 20-mile railroad express line that 
eliminated grade crossings--rail and road intersections--for freight 
railroads leaving the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, resulting in 
reduced congestion for both freight and passenger travel through the 
corridor. Also, a project that extended an existing transit line to the 
airport at Portland, Oregon, improved the connection between aviation 
and surface transportation. 

Recognizing the potential benefits of improving intermodal 
transportation, Congress established a National Intermodal 
Transportation System policy--consisting of all forms of transportation 
in a unified, interconnected manner--in the Intermodal Surface 
Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991.[Footnote 1] ISTEA also 
created the Office of Intermodalism within the Department of 
Transportation (DOT) to provide departmental leadership and 
coordination in supporting a more efficient intermodal transportation 
system. However, as we and others have previously reported, there are 
barriers to planning and implementing intermodal projects because these 
projects are generally more complex to plan and finance than projects 
involving a single mode and, therefore, often can be more difficult to 
implement.[Footnote 2] Furthermore, the congressional appropriations 
process has traditionally been aligned with specific modes, and funding 
for transportation infrastructure improvements may be congressionally 
designated for specific projects. As a result, there is little 
assurance that projects, including intermodal projects--which could 
most efficiently meet the nation's mobility needs--will be selected and 
funded.[Footnote 3] The efficient use of federal funds is particularly 
important given the uncertainty surrounding the long-term viability of 
the Highway Trust Fund.[Footnote 4] In addition, recent organizational 
changes within DOT have transferred the Office of Intermodalism from 
the Office of the Secretary of Transportation for Policy to the 
Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Consequently, 
you asked us to examine the barriers to intermodal transportation and 
how recent organizational changes in DOT may have affected how the 
agency is proceeding with Congress' goal of intermodal transportation. 
Accordingly, this report addresses the following questions: (1) What 
barriers inhibit intermodal transportation? (2) What is DOT, including 
its Office of Intermodalism, doing to address intermodal barriers and 
support Congress' goal of a National Intermodal Transportation System? 
(3) What actions, if any, could DOT take to better address intermodal 
barriers? 

To identify the barriers that inhibit intermodal transportation, we 
reviewed reports from the National Commission on Intermodal 
Transportation, GAO, Transportation Research Board (TRB), and the 
Intermodal Transportation Institute, among others. We also conducted 
semistructured interviews with several industry associations to 
identify intermodal barriers. In addition, we conducted semistructured 
interviews with officials from DOT's Office of the Secretary of 
Transportation for Policy (OST-P) and seven operating administrations, 
four state-level DOTs, four metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), 
and several university transportation centers to understand whether and 
how the intermodal barriers we identified from reports and interviews 
impeded the planning and implementation of intermodal transportation 
projects for freight and passengers. We selected OST and seven 
operating administrations based on the specific role the office and 
administrations have in passenger and/or freight intermodal 
transportation or intermodal policy. We selected the four state DOTs 
and the four MPOs based on (1) recommendations from officials from DOT, 
university transportation centers, as well as representatives of 
industry associations we interviewed, that the state DOTs and MPOs were 
experienced in dealing with passenger and/or freight intermodal 
transportation; (2) the size of the population of the state and MPO 
area; and (3) geographic dispersion. We based our analysis of the 
barriers on interviews with these officials, who have been involved 
with intermodal projects. Through our interviews, we determined that 
the intermodal barriers identified applied to both freight and 
passenger intermodal transportation despite some differences between 
the two. 

To determine what actions DOT and its Office of Intermodalism are 
taking--and could take--to address intermodal barriers and support the 
intermodal goal, we analyzed information gathered from our interviews 
with officials from several of DOT's operating administrations, the 
Office of Intermodalism, state DOTs, MPOs, industry associations, and 
university transportation centers. We also analyzed agency 
documentation on the actions DOT has been taking to address intermodal 
barriers and reviewed published reports from GAO, TRB, and others about 
intermodal transportation issues for freight and passengers and the 
future of transportation policy in the United States. We assessed the 
reliability of the information contained in this report through 
interviews with knowledgeable officials and reviews of documentation 
and corroborating information, and we determined it was sufficiently 
reliable for our purposes. We conducted our work from August 2006 
through May 2007, in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards. Appendix I contains more information about our 
scope and methodology. 

Results in Brief: 

Three key barriers inhibit intermodal transportation according to 
federal, state, and local officials and published studies: 

* Limited federal funding targeted toward intermodal projects. Federal 
law generally ties transportation funding to a single mode, which 
limits the ability of state and local transportation planning agencies 
to use federal funds for intermodal projects. Although there are some 
federal programs under which intermodal projects can be funded and one 
program that is specifically targeted for freight intermodal projects, 
all of the funds available through these programs have been 
congressionally designated for specific projects. 

* Limited collaboration among stakeholders. DOT's operating 
administrations and state and local transportation agencies are 
organized by mode--reflecting the structure of funding programs-- 
resulting in an organizational structure that DOT's own assessments 
acknowledge can impede coordination between modes. In addition, 
collaboration between the public and private sector can also be 
challenging; for example, some transportation officials told us that 
private-sector interests in airport, rail, and freight have 
historically not participated in the regional planning process. 

* Limited resources to evaluate intermodal projects. Potential benefits 
of improving intermodal transportation, such as reduced congestion and 
improved air quality, are difficult for local planning agencies to 
measure and incorporate into analyses of regional transportation 
projects. In addition, it can be difficult to quantify benefits that 
are national, as opposed to local or regional. 

These barriers limit DOT's ability to fully implement the intermodal 
goal and impede state and local agencies' ability to plan, fund, and 
construct intermodal projects, which are inherently more complex than 
those involving one mode because of the variety of funding mechanisms 
and stakeholders involved and the difficulty in quantifying benefits. 
For example, as reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 
in 2000, the roads that connect ports to the national highway system, 
heavily used by trucks, are often in poor condition. Officials from a 
state DOT and two MPOs with whom we met told us that securing funds to 
repair these roads is difficult because the national benefits from 
improving these roads are difficult to quantify and not considered in 
the local planning process. Similarly, officials from an MPO with whom 
we met told us that efforts to develop a project linking passenger rail 
to the airport were complicated by having two different operating 
administrations within DOT overseeing different portions of the 
project. As a result of these barriers, appropriate consideration may 
not be given to addressing inefficient intermodal connections at the 
state and local level, even though these projects could yield important 
improvements in mobility. 

DOT--through several operating administrations and the Office of 
Intermodalism--is taking action to address the barriers to intermodal 
transportation, but collectively these actions fall short of creating a 
coordinated approach. For example, DOT has taken such steps as 
disseminating guidance on how to access funding for intermodal 
projects, creating working groups to improve collaboration between 
modes, and providing state and local governments with data on 
intermodal transportation. In addition, DOT took some steps, 
particularly with regard to freight, toward implementing Congress' 
intermodal goal. For example, DOT has drafted a framework for a 
national freight policy, and the Office of Intermodalism is working on 
a plan that will help gauge the effectiveness of DOT's freight 
activities. DOT also proposed a reorganization in 1995, which according 
to DOT officials, would have enhanced its approach to intermodal 
transportation and improve collaboration, but Congress did not approve 
it, and DOT is limited in its ability to address funding issues, which 
exist in statute and would need congressional action to address. While 
DOT has taken several actions to address each barrier and move toward 
Congress' goal, DOT's actions are not coordinated by any single office 
or operating administration and are therefore fragmented across the 
department. The Office of Intermodalism, which has responsibility for, 
among other things, coordinating and initiating federal intermodal 
policy, is primarily focused on research and analysis. No other office 
or operating administration within DOT has taken the lead in 
coordinating DOT's efforts in its place. 

Based on our analysis and our discussions with transportation 
officials, DOT could take additional actions to further address 
intermodal barriers, including increasing collaboration between 
operating administrations and improving availability of intermodal 
guidance and resources. In addition, designating one office or 
operating administration to be responsible for leading and coordinating 
these and other DOT efforts to address barriers would help in moving 
toward Congress' goal of a National Intermodal Transportation System. 
These actions, however, would need to be considered in the context of 
the current challenges facing DOT and Congress, including the uncertain 
financial condition of the Highway Trust Fund, the lack of assurance 
that projects that best meet mobility needs are being selected and 
funded, and the increase in congestion on all modes. These issues have 
led us to suggest, in our reports on major challenges facing the nation 
and on high-risk federal programs, that DOT and Congress reassess all 
transportation modes to determine the appropriate federal role, assess 
funding alternatives, and develop ways to monitor investments to ensure 
performance. Any actions that DOT takes to better address barriers to 
intermodal transportation should be consistent with the direction taken 
by Congress and DOT in response to these challenges. 

We are recommending that the Secretary of Transportation direct one 
office or operating administration to take the lead in coordinating 
intermodal activities for freight and passengers at the federal level 
by improving collaboration among operating administrations and the 
availability of intermodal guidance and resources. We recognize that 
the Office of Intermodalism is statutorily responsible for coordinating 
and initiating federal policy on intermodal transportation; however, 
the office does not have the resources to fully carry out these 
important responsibilities and is currently focused on conducting and 
coordinating research and analysis. As a result, DOT may want to seek 
legislative authority to respond to our recommendation. We provided a 
draft of this report to DOT for review and comment. We received written 
comments, in which the department agreed to consider the report's 
recommendation and stated that the report provides a starting point for 
constructive discussions between the Executive Branch and Congress on 
innovative solutions to intermodal challenges. (See app. II for DOT's 
written comments.) In addition, the department offered technical 
comments, which we incorporated where appropriate. 

Background: 

Intermodal Projects Offer Potential for Reducing Congestion and 
Achieving Other Benefits: 

The various modes that comprise the transportation system in the United 
States connect and intersect in a variety of ways, and both freight and 
passengers often move from one mode to another. Intermodal 
transportation refers to the movement of freight or passengers using 
more than one mode to complete a journey. For example, as shown in 
figure 1, freight can move from its original destination by ship and/or 
air to a seaport or airport, then from the seaport or airport to an 
intermediate distribution facility by rail or truck, then to its final 
destination, by rail or truck. 

Figure 1: Example of Intermodal Transportation for Freight: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

In another example, as shown in figure 2, a passenger may drive to the 
local transit rail service, then transfer to a bus to reach a final 
destination. 

Figure 2: Example of Intermodal Transportation for Passengers: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

An effective intermodal transportation system ensures a seamless 
transfer between modes for both freight and passengers, the ability to 
connect to an extended transportation network, and reliability among 
the different modes. As we have reported, an efficient intermodal 
transportation system is achieved through the successful planning and 
implementation of intermodal projects through the efforts of state, 
local, and private stakeholders.[Footnote 5] These projects are 
typically initiated and developed by state and local transportation 
agencies, including some combination of state departments of 
transportation, local transportation planning entities--such as MPOs-- 
and local transit agencies. Planning and implementing intermodal 
projects can also include private stakeholders, such as railroads, 
airlines, trucking companies, and industry and retail businesses, among 
others, who are involved in intermodal transportation. Projects to 
improve intermodal transportation can improve mobility, reduce costs 
for freight shippers and travelers by providing alternative 
transportation options and eliminating freight bottlenecks at entrances 
to freight facilities, and reduce road congestion with the potential 
for an associated reduction in vehicle emissions and improved air 
quality.[Footnote 6] Examples of some planned intermodal projects 
include the following: 

* The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency 
(CREATE) Program in the Chicago, Illinois region, will increase the 
efficiency of freight and passenger rail service throughout the region 
by relieving congestion. (See fig. 3) The CREATE Program is a major 
program, composed of 78 projects--32 of those are planned to be in 
design or construction by 2009. Though not fully funded, some funding 
for the CREATE Program is from a variety of sources, including the 
federal government, the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago, 
railroads, and others. When completed, the CREATE Program has the 
potential to reduce congestion on area roadways, improve air quality, 
and improve freight and passenger mobility in part by creating 25 new 
roadway overpasses or underpasses to eliminate many grade crossing, 
creating 6 new rail overpasses to separate passenger and freight 
tracks, and upgrading rail tracks, switches and signal systems. 

Figure 3: Freight Rail Congestion in Chicago: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: Association of American Railroads (AAR). 

[End of figure] 

* The Miami Intermodal Center, to be completed in 2011, will serve as a 
transfer point to the Miami International Airport and other 
destinations for various rail systems, buses, taxis, rental cars, and 
privately owned vehicles in Southern Florida (see fig. 4). Funding 
comes from several sources, including federal and state funds. When 
completed, the center is expected to provide efficient intermodal 
connectivity between the airport and Southern Florida's business and 
activities centers, as well as serve as a transfer point for resident 
commuters. The center is also expected to reduce congestion on the 
surrounding highways and access roads to the airport. 

Figure 4: Computer Model of the Completed Miami Central Station: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: Florida Department of Transportation, Miami Intermodal Center, 
2007. 

Note: The station will provide rail and bus connections between various 
public transit systems and other modes of transportation such as 
Greyhound, taxis and private vehicle services. 

[End of figure] 

The Warwick Intermodal Facility in Rhode Island will include a commuter 
and intercity rail station, a bus terminal for local and intercity 
buses; a consolidated rental car facility and 3,200 space parking 
garage; and an elevated, enclosed skywalk to the T.F. Green Airport 
(see fig. 5). Funding for the facility came from several sources, 
including federal grants and loans, among others. When completed, it is 
expected to improve overall traffic flow in the area, especially the 
consolidated car rental facility, which will eliminate rental car 
shuttle buses. 

Figure 5: Computer Model of the Warwick Intermodal Facility: 

[See PDF for image] 

Source: Rhode Island Department of Transportation. 

[End of figure] 

Intermodal Transportation Issues Differ between Freight and Passenger 
Transportation: 

Freight and passenger intermodal transportation differ in many ways, 
including national versus regional significance, funding and ownership 
of infrastructure, and involvement with private-sector stakeholders. 

Freight intermodal transportation is influenced by global and national 
economic activity, due to the demand of goods and the desire to get 
these goods from origin to destination as efficiently and as cost- 
effectively as possible. Benefits derived from these types of projects 
are often national in scope and as a result can be difficult to 
measure. Intermodal operations for freight movement involve both public 
and privately owned infrastructure, including roads, rail lines, ports, 
airlines, and trucks, among others. Thus, freight intermodal 
transportation involves both the public and private sector. For 
example, private companies, such as rail companies, airlines, trucking 
companies, and logistic companies often make decisions on where to 
locate intermodal transfer facilities and fund the construction of 
these facilities. Intermodal freight projects improve the connections 
between modes, which in turn improves freight mobility. 

Passenger intermodal transportation, with the exception of air travel, 
tends to be more regional in nature. For example, passengers may 
commute to work using a combination of personal vehicles, trains, and 
buses--and these trips usually occur within a particular region. While 
these types of intermodal trips may be possible, the majority of 
passengers commute to work as single occupants in personal vehicles 
rather than using transit. Passengers generally consider alternatives 
to their vehicles in locations where congestion causes driving to be 
too costly.[Footnote 7] Most intermodal trips are made on publicly 
owned and operated infrastructure; for example, transit and passenger 
rail infrastructure is almost wholly owned and operated by the public 
sector.[Footnote 8] Passenger intermodal transportation primarily 
involves federal, state, and local transportation agencies and 
intermodal passenger projects often receive funding through these 
sources. 

Federal Policies and Funding Have Generally Focused on Individual 
Modes: 

Historically, federal transportation policy and funding to improve 
transportation infrastructure have generally focused on individual 
modes rather than intermodal transportation. Federal policy for surface 
transportation, aviation, and passenger rail are established through 
separate legislation and draw funding from separate sources. For 
example, the planning and funding for most modes of surface 
transportation is addressed under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible 
Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users(SAFETEA-LU) 
while the planning and funding of U.S. airports is addressed under 
Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act.[Footnote 9] The 
federal government is a significant funding source for many surface 
transportation plans and projects; for example, federal funding for 
highways and transit systems comes mainly from federal motor fuel tax 
revenues deposited into the Highway Trust Fund. While most of this 
funding is specifically linked to highway or transit uses, some funding 
flexibility between highway and transit is allowed under some programs. 
Federal programs provide limited support for investment in railroad 
infrastructure, with railroad investments largely financed by the 
private sector, with the exception of intercity passenger rail. The 
Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 created the National Railroad 
Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to provide nationwide passenger rail 
service, and the federal government has provided funding for both 
capital and operating expenditures to Amtrak.[Footnote 10] Federal 
transportation infrastructure funding programs are overseen by 
different agencies within DOT, including aviation by the Federal 
Aviation Administration (FAA), transit by the Federal Transit 
Administration (FTA), and highways by FHWA, among others. 

ISTEA Established an Intermodal Goal: 

With the passage of ISTEA in December 1991, Congress established a 
policy for a National Intermodal Transportation System, which ISTEA 
defines as "all forms of transportation in a unified, interconnected 
manner, including the transportation systems of the future, to reduce 
energy consumption and air pollution while promoting economic 
development and supporting the Nation's preeminent position in 
international commerce." ISTEA included some provisions to facilitate 
the implementation of this intermodal goal by DOT, state governments, 
and local governments: 

* Allowed the use of certain federal highway program funds for either 
highway or transit projects. 

* Established specific planning guidelines to help metropolitan areas 
prioritize the highway and transit needs of the entire region with the 
goal of promoting an integrated transportation system. For example, 
laws and regulations[Footnote 11] require each state to carry out an 
intermodal statewide transportation planning process, including the 
development of a statewide transportation plan and transportation 
improvement program that facilitates the efficient, economic movement 
of people and goods. 

* Created DOT's Office of Intermodalism, which was charged with 
coordinating federal policy on intermodal transportation and initiating 
policies to promote efficient intermodal transportation in the United 
States. 

* Created the Intermodal Transportation Advisory Council consisting of 
the Administrators or designees from FHWA, FAA, the Maritime 
Administration (MARAD), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and 
FTA to provide recommendations on how best to coordinate federal policy 
on intermodal transportation and initiate policies to promote efficient 
intermodal transportation in the United States.[Footnote 12] 

* Required states to develop and implement six management systems for 
managing highway pavement, bridges, highway safety, traffic congestion, 
public transportation facilities and equipment, and intermodal 
transportation facilities and systems. The management system required 
for intermodal transportation facilities and systems provided for the 
improvement and integration of all of a state's transportation systems, 
including methods of achieving the optimum yield from such systems, 
methods for increasing productivity in the state, methods for 
increasing use of advanced technologies, and methods to encourage the 
use of innovative marketing techniques, such as just-in-time 
deliveries. 

* Required the formation of a National Commission on Intermodal 
Transportation to report on intermodal transportation and recommend 
policies that would need to be adopted to achieve the national goal of 
an efficient intermodal transportation system. 

While ISTEA viewed different transportation modes as part of a larger 
transportation network, it maintained separate funding for the 
individual modes. Also, it provided few requirements or resources for 
DOT, state governments, and local governments in shifting toward an 
intermodal approach. TRB concluded in 2003 that the goal of a national 
intermodal transportation system is appropriate, but it is too broad to 
be attainable through the limited means available within the historical 
scope of the federal surface transportation act or any other single 
federal program.[Footnote 13] 

In an attempt to achieve the intermodal goal set forth in ISTEA, DOT 
developed a plan to reorganize its operating administrations to help 
promote intermodal planning and decision making within the department. 
In 1995, DOT proposed consolidating its 10 operating administrations 
into three: surface, aviation, and Coast Guard. The surface 
administration would be called the Intermodal Transportation 
Administration and would encompass FHWA, FTA, FRA, the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and part of MARAD. As part of 
this reorganization, DOT also proposed streamlining its existing field 
structure, which included 161 surface transportation field offices. 
Congress set aside DOT's reorganization proposal and maintained its 
organizational structure. Although DOT was not able to carry out its 
reorganization plans at the headquarters level, the agency was able to 
streamline its field office structure. According to DOT officials, 
consolidating the field offices improved communication among field 
office personnel, simplified efforts for customers, and achieved 
resource efficiencies. 

Subsequent legislation modified and retained some of the intermodal 
provisions and requirements established in ISTEA. For example, the 
National Highway System Designation (NHS) Act of 1995 made the 
requirement for states to develop and implement six management systems, 
including the intermodal transportation management program, 
optional.[Footnote 14] The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st 
Century (TEA-21), enacted in 1998, and SAFETEA-LU, enacted in 2005, 
both retained the basic policy and programs established by ISTEA. The 
Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004 
(Pub. L. No. 108-426) transferred the Office of Intermodalism to the 
newly created RITA.[Footnote 15] 

Three Key Barriers Inhibit Intermodal Transportation: 

Three key barriers emerge as inhibiting progress on intermodal 
transportation, according to our discussions with transportation 
officials whom we interviewed and our review of previous work on the 
subject: (1) limited federal funding targeted toward intermodal 
projects, (2) limited collaboration among stakeholders from different 
modes and levels of government, and (3) limited resources to evaluate 
intermodal projects. These barriers have limited DOT's ability to fully 
implement the goal of a National Intermodal Transportation System that 
Congress set forth in ISTEA and impede state and local agencies' 
ability to plan, fund, and construct intermodal projects, which are 
inherently more complex than those involving one mode due to the 
variety of stakeholders and funding mechanisms that are involved. 

Limited Federal Funding Targeted for Intermodal Projects: 

Although ISTEA allowed flexibility in the uses of highway and transit 
funding, federal funding for transportation projects has traditionally 
been tied to a single transportation mode, and according to our 
discussions and past studies, this single-mode approach has limited the 
ability of state and local agencies to use federal funds for intermodal 
transportation projects.[Footnote 16] In addition, federal financial 
support for highways and transit systems comes mainly from federal 
highway user fees, with the revenue generated from these fees generally 
targeted for highway or transit projects.[Footnote 17] Intermodal 
projects--which involve two or more modes--may or may not meet the 
criteria to receive funding under some federal programs, even though 
these intermodal projects may yield the best improvements in mobility. 
For example: 

* Officials from one MPO with whom we met described a local project 
involving poorly aligned rail and highway bridges on a major navigation 
channel. One of the transportation agencies involved applied for 
funding through the Truman-Hobbs program,[Footnote 18] a federally 
managed fund for rail and road infrastructure that intersects with 
maritime transportation, to fix the down-river rail bridge to increase 
navigation safety and reduce rail-bridge lifts.[Footnote 19] Because 
the funds were expressly linked to the maritime aspect of the project, 
it was determined that the benefits to the highway from increased 
safety and reduced bridge lifts could not be included in the cost- 
benefit analysis needed to secure funds to address the issue. 

* Officials from one state DOT with whom we met said they wanted to 
reduce highway congestion by transferring freight that travels on 
trucks to trains by improving the capacity and efficiency on the 
freight rail line. Officials said they were unable to use highway funds 
for this purpose, even though it may have been the most effective way 
to reduce congestion on the highway. 

Several surface transportation and aviation funding and credit programs 
have broad criteria and can be used more easily to fund intermodal 
projects, but funding available through these programs can be limited 
when compared with the total cost of intermodal projects, and projects 
must meet certain criteria to qualify for funding. An example of a 
program that can be used to fund intermodal projects is the credit 
assistance program authorized by the Transportation Infrastructure 
Finance and Innovation Act of 1998 (TIFIA). TIFIA provides federal 
credit assistance for surface transportation projects, including 
passenger bus and rail facilities. TIFIA covers a portion of the total 
cost of an intermodal project; specifically, the amount of TIFIA credit 
assistance may not exceed 33 percent of eligible project costs. In 
addition, to qualify for TIFIA assistance, the project must generate a 
revenue stream, from user charges or other nonfederal dedicated funding 
sources. To date, approximately $3.2 billion of TIFIA credit assistance 
has been loaned. For example, the Warwick Intermodal Facility in Rhode 
Island has received $42 million in TIFIA credit assistance, which is 19 
percent of the project cost. The TIFIA credit assistance will be 
secured by customer facility charges levied on automobile rentals 
available at the facility. Another example of a program that can be 
used to fund intermodal projects is the Congestion Mitigation and Air 
Quality (CMAQ) Improvement program. CMAQ funds can only be used for 
transportation projects that will reduce transportation-related 
emissions in nonattainment or maintenance areas and intermodal projects 
must compete for funds with all other types of projects.[Footnote 20] 
In addition, as we have previously reported, FTA's New Starts program 
is a significant source of funding for intermodal capabilities at 
airports that are part of a rail transit system. However, like other 
federal funding programs, the New Starts program, will contribute only 
a portion of the total project costs, subject to local matching funds, 
which can be derived from local agencies such as metropolitan 
transportation authorities, transit agencies, and airport authorities. 
Although, local transportation officials said it can be difficult to 
secure local funds for intermodal projects at airports because these 
agencies could potentially have different funding priorities, making it 
difficult to build the unified local support necessary to secure 
funding.[Footnote 21] Additionally, intermodal capabilities at airports 
can be funded with passenger facility charges (PFC), which local 
officials said was difficult to secure for intermodal uses because of 
requirements that PFCs be used for projects on airport property for 
airport development and capacity improvements, not ground-access 
projects. [Footnote 22] 

Some federal programs can provide funding for intermodal projects, and 
one program is targeted specifically for freight intermodal projects; 
however, funding for these programs has been congressionally designated 
to specific projects. The congressional designation of funds for 
particular projects may not result in the highest priority projects 
being funded. Programs included in SAFETEA-LU, such as the Projects of 
National and Regional Significance and National Corridor Infrastructure 
Improvement Program, can provide funding for intermodal projects. The 
Projects of National and Regional Significance program provides $1.8 
billion for transportation infrastructure projects that have relevance 
and produce benefits on a national or regional level. Benefits could 
include improving economic productivity, facilitating international 
trade, relieving congestion, and improving safety. This program 
includes projects such as the Heartland Corridor, which will enable 
double-stacked international and domestic maritime containers to be 
transported by rail between the Hampton Roads region of Virginia and 
locations in the Midwest by increasing tunnel clearances and modifying 
other overhead obstructions in western Virginia, West Virginia, and 
through to Columbus, Ohio. FHWA has promulgated guidance for potential 
grant recipients, and to date, it has received project descriptions for 
7 of the 25 designated projects. The National Corridor Infrastructure 
Improvement Program provides $1.948 billion for construction of 
designated highway projects in corridors of national significance to 
further promote economic growth and international or interregional 
trade. While these programs are not specifically targeted toward 
intermodal projects, some intermodal projects as well as single mode 
projects were designated to receive funds. Currently there is only one 
federal funding program--the Freight Intermodal Distribution Pilot 
Grant Program, which was created by SAFETEA-LU--specifically available 
for freight intermodal projects. The total amount of funds available 
through this program--$30 million--have been congressionally designated 
to five states. These projects include intermodal freight 
infrastructure improvements at seaports and airports. As of May 2007, 
FHWA, which administers the program, has received one completed project 
description from one of the designated recipients of the grants. 

Officials at all levels of government told us that it is very 
challenging to secure federal funding to improve intermodal freight 
connectors, even if such projects are eligible for funding. In earlier 
work, we found public planners are wary of providing public support for 
projects that directly benefit the private sector.[Footnote 23] A 
number of the DOT officials whom we met with for this report noted that 
freight interests struggle to inform local communities of the 
importance of these freight projects. Furthermore, as we have 
previously reported, the planning process often does not consider the 
global and national nature of freight mobility. Although the demands on 
these intermodal connectors are predominately international and 
national in nature, state DOTs and MPOs conduct the planning and 
project identification process for these improvements, while the 
benefits of such improvements may be distributed nationally. Since 
these local communities have limited funds for transportation projects, 
other projects that provide benefits that are more readily discernable 
to immediate localities--such as highway projects that address 
passenger transportation--are often given priority for funding. Also, 
in 2000, a FHWA report concluded that the roads that connect intermodal 
terminals, such as ports, airports, and rail yards, to the NHS were in 
disrepair when compared with the rest of the NHS, reducing the 
capability of the nation's transportation system to effectively handle 
freight transport.[Footnote 24] While state and local transportation 
agencies are not prevented from using highway trust fund moneys to 
repair and upgrade these connectors, they have remained in disrepair. 

Limited Collaboration among Stakeholders: 

Reflecting the separate federal transportation funding programs, DOT is 
organized into several operating administrations with responsibilities 
for particular modes; and according to those whom we spoke with and 
published studies, this organizational structure can impede 
coordination. Because different operating administrations oversee and 
manage separate funding programs, these programs often have differing 
timelines, criteria, and matching fund requirements, which can make it 
difficult for state and local agencies to plan and implement intermodal 
projects. For example, an official from an MPO with whom we met said 
the MPO is working to connect passenger rail to the regional airport, 
but carrying out the project was complicated because of FAA and FTA 
involvement on different aspects of the project. The official also 
noted that there was no single point of contact for the entire project 
because the lead agency changes with the location of the portion of 
right-of-way that is being built. DOT officials told us that the 
organizational structure of DOT by mode is a reflection of separate 
funding streams and of the separate congressional committees and 
subcommittees that oversee particular modes, and they noted DOT's 1995 
attempt to reorganize the agency's operating administrations to improve 
the administrations' ability to collaborate. Further, DOT officials 
acknowledge that as long as programmatic responsibility and funding 
sources remain within discrete operating administrations, local 
transportation officials seeking to develop intermodal projects will be 
required to work with more than one operating administration to advance 
the project. 

Our reviews and discussions indicated that collaboration and 
recognition of intermodal projects or intermodal qualities of single 
mode projects is limited between and among transportation stakeholders 
at the state and local level and the private sector. State and local 
transportation agencies are also generally organized by mode, which 
reflects DOT's organizational structure and separate funding sources. 
In prior work, we found that transportation corridors that extend 
across multiple state and local boundaries pose challenges for 
intermodal transportation decision making, due to coordination and 
cross-jurisdictional issues. Obtaining cooperation among these 
different officials can make the planning and implementation of 
multistate and multiregion projects difficult.[Footnote 25] We heard 
similar concerns in the interviews we conducted for this current 
report. 

For example: 

* Some transportation officials told us that private-sector interests 
in airport, rail, and freight have historically not participated in the 
regional planning process in MPOs, even though many state DOTs and MPOs 
have been working on outreach efforts with the private sector. This 
issue has been attributed to several reasons, including the lengthy 
timeline for the public planning process--which places too great of a 
time burden on private-sector participant--and the lack of knowledge on 
the part of public agencies and the private sector, which contributes 
to poor communication and interaction. 

* According to officials from one state DOT, highway engineers planned 
to add high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to a portion of the highway 
to reduce congestion, but it did not consider connecting these HOV 
lanes to park-and-ride facilities to encourage the use of these lanes 
and also limited bus access to the lanes. 

* Officials from one state DOT with whom we met noted that within the 
transit mode, including buses, light rail, and intercity rail, 
schedules are not always consistent; and that passengers often must 
purchase multiple tickets to complete a journey, which compromises the 
efficient movement between regions. 

Limited Resources to Evaluate Intermodal Projects: 

Another barrier, according to many officials whom we spoke with and 
studies we reviewed, is the lack of data on intermodal transportation 
and its associated benefits, which can hamper state and local 
transportation agencies' ability to effectively incorporate intermodal 
transportation into their regional transportation systems. In addition, 
it can be difficult for state DOTs and MPOs to quantify benefits that 
are national, as opposed to local or regional, and include these 
national benefits in the local planning process. As TRB has 
reported,[Footnote 26] local and state government transportation 
agencies sometimes do not have the methods for evaluating trade-offs 
between investments yielding benefits to freight traffic and those 
yielding predominantly passenger benefits. Developing improved methods 
for this has been a focus of the National Cooperative Highway Research 
Program (NCHRP) and DOT. Also, officials from an MPO whom we met with, 
noted difficulties in obtaining data from private sources to assist in 
the planning process, such as future location of intermodal facilities 
and capital acquisition plans from the freight sector, due to the 
proprietary nature of much of that data. In our prior work,[Footnote 
27] we identified data quality as a pivotal concern in measuring and 
forecasting traffic flow, such as the number of passengers using public 
transportation to get to the airport, compared with the number of 
passengers using private vehicles, because reliable and complete data 
are not always available. This information is generally collected 
through surveys of passengers at airports. However, since these surveys 
can be very expensive to conduct, only airports with significant 
financial resources conduct these surveys, and then only every few 
years. Moreover, such surveys tend to result in low response rates, 
which are often associated with biased estimates due to differences 
between passengers who agree to participate and those who do not 
participate in the survey. 

Even if data are available, analyzing the data can be complex, and some 
state and local transportation agencies may not have sufficient human 
capital to do so. Our work indicated that opportunities for increased 
efficiencies through intermodal transportation are compromised because 
of the limited ability of MPOs to apply analytical techniques that 
incorporate the benefits of intermodal transportation. For example, as 
we have previously reported,[Footnote 28] the deployment of Intelligent 
Transportation Systems technology has been limited by the lack of 
technical training and limited focus on operational tools at state DOTs 
and MPOs. Transportation officials with whom we met said a lack of 
human capital capacity at some MPOs limits their ability to conduct 
appropriate analyses that would incorporate the benefits of intermodal 
transportation. 

DOT Is Taking Action to Address Barriers and Implement Congress' Goal, 
but Efforts Are Not Coordinated by One Office: 

DOT, including its Office of Intermodalism, is taking a number of 
actions to address each of the three key barriers to intermodal 
transportation. For example, DOT provided guidance to simplify access 
to existing funding and recommended ideas for congressional 
consideration to make more funding available, created working groups to 
increase collaboration, and made data and analysis tools available. In 
addition, DOT took some steps, particularly with regard to freight, 
toward implementing Congress' intermodal goal. While all of these 
actions are aimed at addressing the barriers and supporting Congress' 
intermodal goal, collectively they fall short of creating a coordinated 
approach to intermodal transportation. DOT's actions to address 
barriers are not coordinated by any single office or operating 
administration and are therefore fragmented across the department. The 
Office of Intermodalism, which has responsibility for, among other 
things, coordinating and initiating federal intermodal policy, is 
primarily focused on research and analysis. No other office or 
operating administration within DOT has taken the lead in coordinating 
DOT's efforts in its place. 

Actions Have Been Taken to Address Each Barrier: 

DOT--through several operating administrations and the Office of 
Intermodalism--is taking actions to address all three intermodal 
barriers. Table 1 provides an overview of some of these actions, and 
the sections that follow discuss actions on each barrier in more 
detail. 

Table 1: Overview of Selected DOT Ongoing Actions to Address Intermodal 
Barriers: 

Barrier: Limited specific funding for intermodal projects; 
DOT actions: 
* Created the Finance Guidebook for Freight, which summarizes the 
potential funding available for freight projects. This guidebook will 
be distributed through FHWA's division offices and Web site; and a 
workshop is planned for 2007; 
Operating administration: 
* FHWA. 

Barrier: Limited specific funding for intermodal projects; 
DOT actions: 
* Developed guidance called Best Practices--Surface Access to Airports, 
which describes the use of Airport Improvement Program funds for 
transit connections to airports; 
Operating administration: 
* FAA, FHWA, and FTA. 

Barrier: Limited collaboration among stakeholders; 
DOT actions: 
* Established an Intermodal Council to increase discussion between 
operating administrations within DOT.[A]; 
Operating administration: 
* FHWA, FAA, MARAD, FRA, FTA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Administration (FMCSA), RITA, NHTSA, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development 
Corporation, and OST. 

Barrier: Limited collaboration among stakeholders; 
DOT actions: 
* Created the Freight Industry Roundtable outreach effort, which led to 
creation of the Draft Framework for a National Freight Policy; 
Operating administration: 
* OST- Office of Freight and Logistics, FRA, FHWA, MARAD, and FAA. 

Barrier: Limited collaboration among stakeholders; 
DOT actions: 
* Participates in the Intermodal Freight Technology Working Group, 
which works to identify technology solutions to freight transportation 
issues; 
Operating administration: 
* FHWA, Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, and 
industry groups. 

Barrier: Limited Resources to Evaluate Intermodal Projects; 
DOT actions: 
* Implemented the Transportation Planning Capacity Building (TPCB) 
program, which is a Web-based program for state DOTs and MPOs to share 
information. Information on how to include freight interests in the 
planning process has been posted; 
Operating administration: 
* FTA and FHWA. 

Barrier: Limited Resources to Evaluate Intermodal Projects; 
DOT actions: 
* Manages the Freight Professional Development Program, which offers 
training, education, technical assistance, and a resource library to 
assist state and local officials as well as private stakeholders in 
freight transportation planning and systems. Examples of training 
offered include the Web-based Talking Freight Seminars series, the 
Workshop on Engaging the Private Sector in Transportation Planning for 
States, and the Freight Planning LISTSERV, which provides a forum for 
information exchange.[A]; 
Operating administration: 
* FHWA. 

Barrier: Limited Resources to Evaluate Intermodal Projects; 
DOT actions: 
* Utilized the Intermodal Transportation and Inventory Costing Model 
State Tool to assist in determining the most efficient modal choice for 
moving freight; 
Operating administration: 
* FHWA, FRA and OST-Policy. 

Barrier: Limited Resources to Evaluate Intermodal Projects; 
DOT actions: 
* Initiated the Passenger Intermodal Connectivity Project to develop a 
database on intermodal facilities and their geographic coordinates; 
Operating administration: 
* RITA-Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the Passenger 
Intermodal Connectivity Study Working Group, which also includes FRA, 
FHWA, FTA, FAA, and MARAD. 

Source: GAO analysis of DOT information. 

[A] The Intermodal Council and the Freight Professional Development 
Program are congressional requirements. The Intermodal Council is the 
fulfillment of the Intermodal Transportation Advisory Board, required 
by law under 49 U.S.C. 5502. FHWA manages the Freight Professional 
Development Program, in accordance with the inclusion of freight 
professional capacity building in SAFETEA-LU. 

[End of table] 

Actions to Improve Access to Funding for Intermodal Projects: 

Congress has created some funding and credit assistance programs that 
are not limited to specific transportation modes (see table 2); and for 
some of these programs, DOT has issued guidance for managing the 
process of providing funding to projects that qualify. In addition, for 
transportation programs that are limited to specific transportation 
modes, DOT has also developed some guidance to clarify how state DOTs 
and MPOs can obtain this type of funding for intermodal projects. For 
example, FHWA partnered with the American Association of State Highway 
and Transportation Officials to create a Web-based clearinghouse of 
information on innovative finance programs for transportation projects. 
The Web site, established through a National Cooperative Highway 
Research Program project, provides information on technical topics, 
projects, legislation, publications, application guidance, and 
institutional issues relevant to all modes of surface transportation. 
In addition, in September 2006, FAA distributed guidance called Best 
Practices-Surface Access to Airports to airport planners, which 
outlines the steps that airport sponsors can take to access surface 
transportation funding. In January 2007, this document was made 
available on FAA's Web site. 

Table 2: Description of Some Federal Programs that Can Fund Intermodal 
Projects: 

Program: Projects of National and Regional Significance; 
Description: This program provides $1.8 billion to congressionally 
designated projects to fund transportation infrastructure projects that 
have relevance and produce benefits on a national or regional level. 
Benefits could include improving economic productivity, facilitating 
international trade, relieving congestion, and improving safety. 

Program: National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement Program; 
Description: This program provides $1.948 billion of congressionally 
designated funds for the construction of highway projects in corridors 
of national significance to promote economic growth and international 
or interregional trade. 

Program: Surface Transportation Program (STP); 
Description: STP provides flexible funding that may be used by states 
and localities for projects on any federal-aid highway, including the 
NHS, bridge projects on any public road, transit capital projects, and 
intracity and intercity bus terminals and facilities. According to DOT 
officials, STP funds can benefit freight movement on highways as well 
as freight movement on rail lines, in that STP funds can be used to 
raise bridges and move roads to allow for rail expansion. In addition, 
rail grade crossing improvements are also eligible because of the 
safety benefits. Funding for this program was authorized at $6.37 
billion in 2007. 

Program: Freight Intermodal Distribution Pilot Grant Program; 
Description: The only federal funding specifically for freight 
intermodal transportation projects, this program provides grants to 
states for projects that facilitate and support intermodal freight 
transportation initiatives to relieve congestion and improve safety. 
Congress has allocated $30 million to five states. 

Program: TIFIA; 
Description: Allowed DOT to provide credit assistance directly to 
public-private sponsors of major surface transportation projects to 
help them gain access to capital markets. To qualify for TIFIA credit 
assistance, projects must be supported in whole or in part from user 
charges or other non-Federal funding sources. 

Program: Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF); 
Description: Provided $35 billion in loan authority to DOT to finance 
improvements to rail infrastructure. 

Program: State Infrastructure Bank (SIB); 
Description: SIBs are capitalized with federal and state funds. Each 
SIB operates as a revolving fund and can finance a wide variety of 
surface transportation projects. 

Program: Tax-Exempt Facility Bonds; 
Description: Tax-Exempt Facility Bonds includes any bonds issued where 
95 percent or more of the net proceeds of which are to be used to 
provide qualified highway or surface freight transfer facilities. 
SAFETEA-LU broadened the qualifications for tax-exempt private activity 
bonds to include intermodal freight facilities, establishing a $15 
billion ceiling for such bonds. 

Program: CMAQ; 
Description: CMAQ funds must be used for transportation projects that 
will reduce transportation-related emissions in areas with poor air 
quality. SAFETEA-LU required DOT, in consultation with the 
Environmental Protection Agency, to evaluate and assess a 
representative sample of CMAQ projects to determine the direct and 
indirect impacts of the projects on air quality and congestion to 
ensure that the CMAQ program is being effectively implemented. In 
fiscal year 2007, this program was funded at $1.72 billion. 

Source: GAO analysis of SAFETEA-LU and DOT information. 

[End of table] 

DOT also proposed other funding avenues for congressional consideration 
as part of SAFETEA-LU. DOT's options with regard to making funding 
available for intermodal transportation projects are limited, in that 
the agency cannot create new funding sources or change the requirements 
for receiving federal funds. Doing so requires congressional action. 
DOT's reauthorization proposal included proposals to make more funds 
available for intermodal transportation projects; however, Congress did 
not include these proposals in SAFETEA-LU. For example: 

* To improve the condition of intermodal connectors (roads that connect 
intermodal terminals to the NHS), which are typically in disrepair, DOT 
proposed requiring each state to set aside 2 percent of states' NHS 
apportionment. Exemptions to the set-aside would have been allowed if 
states could show that the connectors were in good condition and 
providing an adequate level of service. 

* DOT also proposed dedicating $100 million per year to fund 
construction, renovation, or improvement of intermodal passenger 
facilities. This proposal focused on connections with intercity buses 
at airports, public transportation facilities, train stations, and 
seaports. 

Actions to Improve Intermodal Collaboration: 

As required by Congress, DOT has taken several actions that were 
designed to increase intermodal collaboration. For example, in February 
2007, DOT established an Intermodal Council, which is the fulfillment 
of the Intermodal Transportation Advisory Board required by 49 U.S.C. 
5502. According to DOT officials, this council is convened by OST, 
which brings the operating administrators or their deputies from FHWA, 
FAA, MARAD, FRA, FTA, FMCSA, RITA, NHTSA, and Saint Lawrence Seaway 
Development Corporation, together to discuss intermodal issues. To 
date, there have been two meetings and a schedule has been established 
for the next few months. The council has covered two topics--human 
factors and transportation safety, and transportation services in rural 
areas--not related to intermodal barriers. In addition, the Norman Y. 
Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act moved the Office 
of Intermodalism and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) to 
RITA in an effort to encourage more effective sharing of data and 
resources directed toward research, development, and technology, and 
remove inefficiencies and duplicative efforts.[Footnote 29] Also, in 
the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1998, Congress directed DOT to 
convene a task force to assess the adequacy of the Marine 
Transportation System (MTS), which consists of waterways, ports, and 
their intermodal connections. The task force reported a set of 
recommendations to Congress in 1999, which led to the creation of two 
entities--an advisory council and an interagency committee. The 
advisory council is designed to provide an avenue for the maritime 
industry to have input into issues regarding the MTS, while the 
interagency committee is designed to improve coordination among the 18 
federal agencies with responsibilities related to the MTS. The 
interagency committee also is designed to ensure the development and 
implementation of national MTS policies consistent with national needs 
and report its views and recommendations for improving the MTS to the 
President. 

Separate from these congressional requirements, DOT has also taken 
several steps on its own, some examples include: 

* As previously described, in 1995, DOT proposed to reorganize the 
department by merging the five surface transportation operating 
administrations (FHWA, FTA, FRA, NHTSA, and part of MARAD) into one, 
which would have been called the Intermodal Transportation 
Administration. As we reported in the past, merging these operating 
administrations could have helped to promote the intermodal planning 
and decision-making goals set forth in ISTEA.[Footnote 30] Congress set 
aside DOT's reorganization proposal and maintained its organizational 
structure. According to DOT officials, this resulted in a more 
incremental approach to intermodalism. 

* DOT has established several working groups, including the Freight 
Policy Working Group, the Intermodal Freight Technology Working Group, 
and the Passenger Intermodal Connectivity Study Working Group. The 
Freight Policy Working Group advised the Office of the Secretary for 
Policy (OST-P) on the development of the Draft Framework for a National 
Freight Policy and includes representatives from OST-P, MARAD, FHWA, 
FRA, FMCSA, and RITA. The Intermodal Freight Technology Working Group 
is composed of representatives from FHWA, the Intelligent 
Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, and private industry to 
collaborate on freight issues and identify technology based solutions. 
The Passenger Intermodal Connectivity Study Working Group was 
established to assist BTS in identifying intermodal passenger 
facilities and quantifying the degree of connectivity that those 
facilities offer to travelers and includes representatives from FRA, 
FTA, FAA, RITA, FHWA and MARAD. 

* To increase intermodal collaboration at the state, regional, and 
local levels, FTA and FHWA jointly implemented the Transportation 
Planning Capacity Building Program. This program provides information, 
training, and technical assistance on federal planning regulations to 
help transportation professionals create plans and programs that 
respond to the needs of the many users of their local transportation 
systems. The program has a Web site to disseminate information to state 
and local transportation officials, and also convenes conferences and 
meetings. Information on how to include freight interests in the 
planning process has been posted to the Web site. In a similar 
initiative, FHWA published guidance to assist MPOs in creating public- 
private freight advisory committees for their regions. The document 
included examples of MPOs that had successfully incorporated the 
freight community into their planning process, challenges faced by MPOs 
when approaching freight stakeholders, and best practices for MPOs to 
consult when including private-sector stakeholders in their planning 
processes. 

Actions to Improve Availability of Resources to Evaluate Intermodal 
Transportation: 

DOT has made some data on intermodal transportation available on its 
Web site and has also provided guidance on how to analyze data. For 
example, within RITA, BTS is working on the Passenger Intermodal 
Connectivity Project, which is a database on all passenger intermodal 
facilities and includes the facilities' geographic coordinates. As of 
April 2007, BTS had completed the portion of the study that includes 
data on connections at intercity rail stations, which according to DOT 
officials, should have been completed for all airports by the end of 
April 2007. Following completion of the data collection for these two 
modes, BTS anticipates releasing information describing the study and 
the type of data, which will be available to interested parties. 
Subsequent phases of the study will include ferry facilities, commuter 
and transit rail stations, and intercity bus stations. Each phase will 
add that mode's terminals to the database and be accompanied by an 
analytical report. A final report quantifying the degree of 
connectivity in the passenger transportation system is anticipated to 
be issued in early 2009. BTS also conducts the Commodity Flow Survey, 
which collects freight movement information across all modes. Also, 
within RITA, the Office of Intermodalism is engaged with TRB in 
establishing a National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP), 
with planning and data resource objectives that are similar to those of 
the NCHRP. 

Other DOT operating administrations have also implemented a number of 
actions to make data and analysis tools more available to allow 
transportation stakeholders to evaluate intermodal transportation 
projects. For example: 

* FHWA manages the Freight Professional Development Program, in 
accordance with the inclusion of freight professional capacity building 
in SAFETEA-LU.[Footnote 31] The program offers training, education, 
technical assistance, and a resource library to assist state and local 
officials as well as private stakeholders in freight transportation 
planning and systems. Examples of training offered include the Web- 
based Talking Freight Seminars series, the workshop on Engaging the 
Private Sector in Transportation Planning for States, and the Freight 
Planning LISTSERV, which provides a forum for information exchange. The 
Talking Freight Seminars are net-conference seminars that are no-cost 
and include a presentation followed by audience question and answer. 
Some of the state and local transportation officials we met with 
expressed appreciation for the Talking Freight resource. 

* FHWA developed a Freight Analysis Framework to forecast freight flows 
along national corridors and through nodes, and released Multi- 
Pollutant Emissions Benefits of Transportation Strategies in November 
2006, which outlined how to evaluate the environmental benefits of 
alternative transportation strategies, including intermodal facilities. 

* In 2006, the Office of Freight and Logistics in OST-P developed a 
framework called "Guide to Quantifying the Economic Impacts of Federal 
Investments in Large-Scale Freight Transportation Projects." According 
to DOT officials, the guide incorporates analytical elements used in 
planning three complex and costly freight projects in Baltimore, 
Chicago, and Southern California. In developing the guide, the Office 
of Freight and Logistics sought input from transportation planners and 
economists from FHWA, FRA, and MARAD, and industry associations, 
including the Association of American Railroads. The guide is available 
on DOT's freight Web site. 

* BTS Geospatial Information Program released the Intermodal Freight 
Terminal dataset, which is part of the National Transportation Atlas 
Database. The dataset includes information on the location of 
intermodal terminals and specific characteristics for each, including 
the primary function of the facility, the modes which use the facility, 
type of freight moving through the facility, and the direction of 
freight transfer between modes (i.e., highway to rail). 

* FAA and FHWA worked together on the Airport Ground Access Planning 
Guide, which included performance measures and outlined data collection 
methods. 

To improve the professional capacity of state DOTs in regard to freight 
mobility, DOT proposed State Freight Transportation Coordinators in 
every state for congressional consideration in its SAFETEA-LU 
reauthorization proposal, but this proposal was not included in the 
final bill. The coordinator would have been responsible for fostering 
public and private sector collaboration needed to implement complex 
solutions to freight transportation and freight transportation gateway 
problems, including coordination of metropolitan and statewide 
transportation activities with trade and economic interests and 
coordination with other states, local Department of Defense officials, 
local Department of Homeland Security officials, agencies, and 
organizations to find regional solutions to freight transportation 
problems. The coordinator would also have been responsible for 
advancing freight professional capacity building programs for the 
state. 

Additional Actions DOT Has Taken Toward Implementing Congress' 
Intermodal Goal: 

In addition to the actions taken to address the three intermodal 
barriers, DOT has taken actions toward implementing Congress' goal of 
the National Intermodal System Improvement Plan. For example, SAFETEA- 
LU requires RITA, through the Office of Intermodalism, to conduct a 
comprehensive assessment and forecast of the National Intermodal 
Transportation System's impact on mobility, safety, energy consumption, 
the environment, technology, international trade, economic activity, 
and quality of life in the United States. Also according to SAFETEA-LU, 
the plan is to include recommendations for improving intermodal policy, 
transportation decision making, and financing to maximize mobility and 
the return on investment of federal spending on transportation. An 
initial progress report is required to be submitted to Congress by 
August 2007, and the plan is required to be submitted to Congress by 
August 2009. According to officials from the Office of Intermodalism, 
they are currently developing a limited version of the plan, focusing 
exclusively on freight intermodal transportation. For example, the 
September 2007 initial progress report will have five major elements 
addressing freight information, including a systems overview, a 
baseline of DOT's freight-related activities, and issues, challenges 
and trends. Officials from the Office of Intermodalism told us they 
hope to focus on the strategic aspect of intermodalism and will include 
passengers, military, and security issues, if funding allows, in the 
final plan due in 2009, which may include some areas of consideration, 
but not recommendations. Officials also told us that they did not 
receive the funding required to develop the full plan as outlined in 
SAFETEA-LU, which was estimated to be a minimum of $7 million. 

In addition to the plan, some of DOT's operating administrations, 
including OST-P, took action that could also be considered as steps 
toward implementing Congress' intermodal goal. For example, in April 
2006 DOT released the Draft Framework for a National Freight Policy, 
which grew out of freight community outreach initiated by the Office of 
Freight and Logistics in OST-P. The Draft Framework states that the 
federal government currently has limited jurisdiction over freight 
transportation, and consequently focuses on facilitating freight 
transportation through collaborative action between the public and 
private sectors. DOT officials told us that the Draft Framework was an 
important part of a new policy initiative to address freight 
transportation concerns, noting that freight infrastructure capacity is 
a critical issue due to its importance to the national economy. In 
addition, a DOT official also noted that the Draft Framework is 
expected to be a living document, meant to stimulate discussion and 
local responses. While the Draft Framework is an important first step 
to address these issues, officials from some of the state DOTs and MPOs 
with whom we met said the Draft Framework does not specify an 
appropriate role for the federal government nor does it identify any 
sources of funding to help achieve the changes called for in the 
framework. 

In May 2006, DOT released the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on 
America's Transportation Network. This document outlines a six-point 
plan to address congestion, including (1) creating Urban Partnership 
Agreements with "model cities" to implement demonstration projects such 
as congestion pricing, tolling, express bus services, telecommuting, 
and flex-scheduling; (2) removing barriers to private-sector investment 
in the construction, ownership and operation of transportation 
infrastructure; and (3) establishing a "Corridors of the Future" 
competition to select 3 to 5 major growth corridors in need of long- 
term investment, among others. This initiative is in the early stages 
of implementation, and it is unclear what the outcome will be, or how 
it will include strategies for addressing inefficient intermodal 
connections as a tool to reduce congestion. 

No Office Is Taking the Lead to Coordinate DOT's Actions: 

While DOT has undertaken a range of actions to address barriers to 
freight and passenger intermodal transportation, these actions are not 
coordinated by any single office or operating administration, resulting 
in fragmented efforts across the department. The current Office of 
Intermodalism does not fulfill this role, and no other office has been 
given the responsibility. ISTEA created the Office of Intermodalism in 
1991 and placed the following responsibilities within the 
office:[Footnote 32] 

* coordinate federal policy on intermodal transportation and initiate 
policies to promote efficient intermodal transportation in the United 
States; 

* coordinate federal intermodal transportation research and conduct 
additional research as needed; and: 

* provide technical assistance to states and MPOs (in urban areas with 
population of at least 1 million) in collecting intermodal- 
transportation related data, among other responsibilities. 

Immediately following the passage of ISTEA, the Office of 
Intermodalism's activities primarily focused on policy formulation, 
program implementation, and project development. For example, according 
to DOT officials, the Office of Intermodalism's staff frequently worked 
directly with state DOTs and MPOs--and DOT's field offices--to provide 
data and planning assistance by championing intermodal infrastructure 
projects and promoting regional cooperation between and among the 
private sector, state, local and federal governments. The office has 
also played an important role in advising the Secretary of 
Transportation and coordinating intermodal policies throughout DOT. 
According to DOT officials, one way the office did this was by working 
with FHWA and FTA to help these administrations develop a policy to 
consider multimodal and integrated transportation needs in statewide 
and metropolitan planning processes, as required in ISTEA. In an effort 
to reflect the full spectrum of intermodal elements and the 
organization of DOT itself, staff with expertise in passenger and 
freight operations were detailed or transferred to the Office of 
Intermodalism from FHWA, FTA, FRA, MARAD, and FAA. 

The office's initial broad focus has since narrowed considerably. DOT's 
Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy testified in June 2006 
that much of the narrowing of focus stemmed from congressional 
actions.[Footnote 33] For example, the National Highway System 
Designation Act of 1995 made it optional for state DOTs to develop 
intermodal management systems, a requirement established in ISTEA. 
These systems were to provide a process for identifying linkages 
between modes of transportation, defining strategies for improving the 
effectiveness of modal interactions, and evaluating and implementing 
these strategies. According to the Under Secretary's testimony, this 
change made transportation planning less consistent and implied that a 
systemic, intermodal vision for transportation might not be so 
important after all. Besides the congressional changes, DOT's own view 
of the need for the Office of Intermodalism has changed over time, 
according to DOT officials. Specifically, the need for the Office to 
provide technical assistance to states and MPOs in urban areas in 
collecting data related to intermodal transportation has diminished 
because state DOTs and MPOs became more familiar with intermodal data 
and concepts and because BTS makes much of this data available through 
publications and responses to specific requests. Furthermore, the Under 
Secretary for Policy testified that financial cutbacks and reduced 
staffing were also reasons why the Office of Intermodalism moved away 
from its original operational focus. Collectively, these changes 
shifted the office's attention to other areas--primarily research and 
analysis in order to document the benefits of intermodal operations and 
planning activities to transportation and the economy. 

Other more recent changes have also had an effect on the Office of 
Intermodalism. In 2005, the Office of Intermodalism was moved to RITA 
as a result of the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs 
Improvement Act, although the statutory responsibilities of the office 
did not change under this move. According to a DOT official, when the 
office was moved, the Undersecretary for Policy decided to split the 
office's functions, with the policy-making functions remaining in the 
OST-P. Specifically, the Office of Freight and Logistics in OST-P was 
created to continue these policy functions--but only for freight. With 
the exception of some statutorily required activities, the functions to 
coordinate and conduct intermodal research remained within the Office 
of Intermodalism. However, the policy-related responsibility for 
passenger intermodal transportation was not delegated to any office, 
though the law places those responsibilities with the Office of 
Intermodalism. Consequently, no DOT office ensures the coordination of 
the department's actions to address intermodal barriers for both 
freight and passengers. 

According to DOT officials, passenger intermodal issues have been 
institutionalized throughout the department and are now ingrained in 
the policies of various operating administrations; as a result, 
attention to passenger intermodal transportation at the policy-level 
within the department is not needed. However, officials from two state 
DOTs, an MPO, two industry associations, and a transportation expert 
with whom we met told us that DOT leadership on passenger intermodal 
transportation is needed to support the planning and implementation of 
intermodal projects. Specifically, one official from a state DOT told 
us that the state DOT is very focused on highway issues and any way to 
support alternative modes of transportation, such as transit, from the 
federal level would be beneficial. Furthermore, the official told us 
that FTA and FHWA efforts to promote passenger intermodal 
transportation does not mean that it has been ingrained throughout the 
department. This is because FTA and FHWA are still separate 
administrations with separate pots of money, separate guidelines for 
eligibility, and different criteria; and these separations do not 
support the idea of an institutionalized process for passenger 
intermodal transportation. In addition, an official from an MPO with 
whom we met noted that passenger intermodal transportation tends to be 
viewed as a local or regional issue, not a national issue and that DOT 
should do more to connect local planning decisions to the national 
level. An official from an MPO told us the organization was not aware 
of a national policy on passenger intermodal transportation, but stated 
that it is critically important that one is created. Also, we met with 
a representative from an industry association who noted that DOT's 
approach to passengers is incremental and far from comprehensive. 

Although the Office of Intermodalism's statutory responsibilities did 
not change with the move to RITA, the office's primary role is 
currently focused on conducting and coordinating research and analysis 
to support DOT in the development and implementation of intermodal 
transportation policies. In addition, the office has a limited role in 
developing and coordinating federal policy on intermodal 
transportation. For example, the Office of Intermodalism is also 
currently developing a National Intermodal Transportation Systems 
Improvement Plan, as required by SAFETEA-LU. Through this plan, the 
office is required to, among other things, make recommendations for 
intermodal policy improvement--a policy-level function--but this plan, 
as previously discussed, will be limited and will not include 
recommendations due to the lack of resources available to fulfill this 
mandate. The Office of Intermodalism helps coordinate federal 
intermodal policy by participating in various working groups within DOT 
and with other federal agencies with intermodal purposes. According to 
officials from the Office of Intermodalism, the office would need 
additional resources to further fulfill its policy responsibilities 
that are required by law.[Footnote 34] 

The result of these developments is a blurred responsibility for 
coordinating DOT's actions to address barriers and advancing intermodal 
policies. While certain key intermodal transportation functions--such 
as developing freight intermodal efforts--have been delegated 
throughout DOT, no office or operating administration within the 
department is taking the lead in coordinating DOT actions to address 
intermodal barriers for both freight and passengers. It is not clear 
which office should take the lead in coordinating DOT's activities 
related to freight and passenger intermodal transportation. One option 
would be the Office of Intermodalism because of its statutory 
responsibilities, although the office does not currently have resources 
to fully carry out these responsibilities. Another option would be the 
Office of the Secretary, which is responsible for overseeing the 
formulation of national transportation policy and promoting intermodal 
transportation. According to DOT officials, OST's intermodal 
responsibilities are factored into nearly all of its actions and 
activities. However, while OST has the appropriate DOT-wide authority, 
it has been focusing its efforts on freight intermodal transportation. 

DOT Could Take Actions in the Near Term to Further Address Intermodal 
Barriers: 

Based on our analysis and our discussions with transportation 
officials, there are some actions DOT could take to further address 
intermodal barriers in the near term, including increasing 
collaboration between operating administrations and improving the 
availability of intermodal guidance and resources. Additionally, one 
office or operating administration within DOT could coordinate these 
actions, which would unify DOT's efforts to address intermodal 
barriers. These actions, however, should be considered in the context 
of the current challenges facing DOT and Congress. The uncertain 
financial condition of the Highway Trust Fund, the lack of assurance 
that projects that best meet mobility needs are being selected and 
funded, and the increasing congestion that is compromising mobility and 
economic vitality, as described in our 21st Century Challenges report 
and High-Risk Update,[Footnote 35] have led us to suggest that DOT and 
Congress reassess all transportation modes to determine the appropriate 
federal role, assess funding alternatives, and develop ways to monitor 
investments to ensure performance. Any actions that DOT takes to better 
address barriers to intermodal transportation should be consistent with 
this effort. Furthermore, until these challenges are addressed it is 
unclear how Congress' goal of a National Intermodal Transportation 
System will be achieved. 

Increasing Collaboration between Operating Administrations: 

Increasing collaboration between operating administrations could help 
streamline DOT's actions to address intermodal barriers. Since 
intermodal transportation by its nature involves more than one mode of 
transportation, often DOT's operating administrations, which oversee 
particular modes, must work together to coordinate activities. When 
these administrations do not collaborate and coordinate activities, it 
can limit the overall effectiveness of the federal effort.[Footnote 36] 
Collaboration among DOT's operating administrations has improved over 
time. For example, officials from FRA told us they collaborate with the 
Office of Freight and Logistics in OST-P on freight issues and also 
with FTA and Amtrak due to the shared use of rail for freight and 
passengers. In another example, officials from FHWA told us their 
collaboration with FTA is strong due to joint planning regulations and 
similar field presence, and they said they have more recently 
strengthened ties with the FRA and MARAD. 

Nonetheless, DOT's Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2006 to 2011 notes 
that the stovepiped organizational structure of public transportation 
agencies is an obstacle to intermodal transportation.[Footnote 37] In 
addition, DOT's Office of Inspector General identified overcoming 
stovepiped programs and organizational structures that inhibit 
intermodal trade-offs among transportation solutions, as one of the 10 
top management challenges for DOT for fiscal year 2007.[Footnote 38] 
Specifically, the report states that the different transportation modes 
have rarely worked together to determine the best solution to 
congestion in any particular bottleneck, when the solution may be to 
develop alternatives to building new highways, such as freight rail, 
transit, intercity passenger rail, barge, or developing an intermodal 
solution. The report also found that because the department is 
organized by transportation mode and transportation funding typically 
is used to support a single modal solution, the department needs to 
convince stakeholders, including its own employees, that congestion, 
and the intermodal trade-offs required to solve congestion, will be a 
long-term priority. Also, in 2000 TRB surveyed conference participants 
asking them to rate DOT on how well it had implemented the National 
Commission on Intermodal Transportation's recommendations from 1994, 
which included a recommendation to restructure DOT to better support 
intermodal transportation.[Footnote 39] According to survey 
respondents, there had been little progress on restructuring DOT. 
Respondents believed that more action was needed at the federal level 
to achieve such a restructuring, with some suggesting additional 
legislation. As reflected in the comments, respondents, which included 
representatives from both the public and private sector, want to see 
more DOT leadership initiatives that enable and encourage responsive 
intermodal developments. 

One potential venue for establishing greater coordination is the 
recently established Intermodal Council, though more work is needed to 
ensure the council can deal with barrier-related issues and fully meet 
the intended purpose of the Intermodal Transportation Advisory Board in 
making recommendations on how best to coordinate federal policy on 
intermodal transportation and initiate policies to promote efficient 
intermodal transportation in the United States. Increasing coordination 
between operating administrations, through such mechanisms as the 
Intermodal Council, could bring coherence and awareness to the various 
actions DOT has taken to address barriers and determine additional 
actions to make it easier for state and local transportation decision 
makers to plan and finance intermodal projects. However, it is unclear 
how this council will address the intermodal barriers we have 
identified. To date, the council has met twice, and the initiatives 
that were discussed focused on human factors and transportation safety, 
and transportation services in rural areas. We have reported on eight 
practices to enhance and sustain agencies' collaborative efforts, which 
could help DOT enhance the Council's collaborative efforts. These 
practices include defining and articulating an outcome, agreeing on 
role and responsibilities, and developing mechanisms to monitor, 
evaluate, and report on the results of the collaborative 
effort.[Footnote 40] 

Improving Availability of Intermodal Guidance and Resources: 

As previously described, several of DOT's operating administrations-- 
including FHWA, FAA, RITA and FRA, have developed guidance, bulletins, 
training, conferences, data sets, and other capacity building resources 
to assist state and local organizations in planning and implementing 
intermodal transportation. However, officials from some of the state 
DOTs and MPOs said that they needed particular resources. DOT officials 
told us that some of these resources are available. For example, an 
official from an MPO whom we spoke with told us that it has been 
challenging to assess both roadway and intermodal projects because of 
the limited ability to measure and compare economic benefit. In 
addition, the official told us that technical assistance or training on 
the business of logistics and its relation to transportation planning 
would assist them in modeling and identifying congestion and system 
gaps that need to be addressed. According to DOT officials, a training 
course called "Integrating Freight into the Transportation Planning 
Process, Phase 1" is available through the National Highway Institute, 
and recently FHWA and OST organized a forum on logistics education, 
which examined the training needs required for professionals in regards 
to logistical aspects of public sector transportation planning. 

Some of the officials with whom we met said the information DOT 
provides is helpful, although not easily accessible, in that the 
information is on the different operating administrations' Web sites. 
Creating a centralized Web-based location for this information would 
appear to be a useful way to address current barriers and to make state 
and local officials aware of all the resources available. These state 
and local officials told us it would be helpful to have a central 
location on DOT's Web site to access intermodal information and link 
the different modal efforts. The Office of Intermodalism does not have 
a Web presence, which limits the ability of states and MPOs to access 
the Office of Intermodalism and its activities. Further, many officials 
from the state DOTs and MPOs with whom we met said they were not aware 
of the Office of Intermodalism or its activities. The Office of Freight 
and Logistics Web site has not been updated since 2003 and does not 
have information on the Office of Freight and Logistics current mission 
or activities, such as the Draft Framework for a National Freight 
Policy. DOT does have a Web site dedicated to freight transportation, 
on which the Draft Framework for a National Freight Policy can be 
found; however, none of the officials from the state DOTs or MPOs we 
met with were aware of this Web site. Improving the availability and 
awareness of intermodal resources and guidance could assist state DOTs 
and MPOs in comparing intermodal transportation projects with more 
traditional transportation projects and also in measuring benefits 
derived from intermodal projects, which could improve the efficiency of 
freight and passenger movement. 

Efforts Need to Be Considered in the Context of Overall Challenges 
Facing DOT and Congress: 

Our prior work, including the 21st Century Challenges Report[Footnote 
41] and High-Risk Update,[Footnote 42] has questioned the ability of 
current federal programs, such as programs funded through the Highway 
Trust Fund,[Footnote 43] to provide the robust growth that many 
transportation advocates believe is required to meet the nation's 
mobility needs, particularly as congestion increases on all modes from 
growing freight and passenger travel. Thus, the efficient use of 
federal funds is extremely important, yet the current system for 
planning and financing transportation is not well-suited to advancing 
intermodal transportation projects--including both passenger and 
freight transportation--indicating that fundamental changes that use a 
broader, systemwide approach to transportation investment decisions are 
needed.[Footnote 44] Given these challenges and the complexity of the 
nation's transportation system, which encompasses many modes on systems 
that are owned, funded, and operated by both the public and private 
sectors, reexamining existing government transportation programs and 
commitments may be necessary. In the past, we have stated that 
Congress--and for some issues, DOT--should reassess the following 
issues:[Footnote 45] 

* the appropriate federal role and strategy in funding, selecting, and 
evaluating transportation investments; 

* mechanisms to seek alternative sources of revenues; and: 

* funding allocation and monitoring methods to ensure the equity, 
efficiency, accountability, and performance of transportation 
investments. 

Conducting this type of reassessment for all transportation modes could 
better position the federal government to address these challenges and 
lead to an efficient intermodal transportation system. Furthermore, 
until these challenges are addressed it is unclear how Congress' goal 
of a National Intermodal Transportation System will be achieved. 

Conclusions: 

The National Intermodal Transportation System that Congress envisioned 
in 1991 has not come to fruition because of barriers that impede the 
formulation and coordination of intermodal policy at the federal level, 
which makes it difficult for intermodal projects to be considered on 
equal footing with other projects at the state and local level. DOT's 
actions to address barriers--particularly for freight transportation-- 
represent progress in promoting intermodal transportation. However, 
DOT's actions to address barriers and, ultimately, to achieve Congress' 
goal have fallen short, in part, due to the difficulty in implementing 
a broad goal without specific congressional direction or resources and 
the absence of an operating administration or office that leads and 
coordinates DOT's efforts. As a result, these activities are fragmented 
throughout DOT's Office of the Secretary and various operating 
administrations, including the Office of Intermodalism within RITA. 
Furthermore, DOT is limited in its ability to fully implement Congress' 
1991 National Intermodal Transportation System goal because of the 
federal funding structure of transportation programs and because of the 
stovepiped structure of transportation programs and funding mechanisms 
by mode, which impedes the development of intermodal transportation 
projects. DOT proposed a reorganization, but Congress did not agree to 
it, leaving DOT in the position of having to take a more incremental 
approach to intermodal transportation. Nonetheless, there are further 
actions that DOT could take in the near term to lessen the impact of 
the barriers to intermodal transportation, including increasing 
collaboration between operating administrations and improving 
availability of intermodal guidance and resources. The Office of 
Intermodalism, while statutorily responsible for coordinating and 
initiating federal policy on intermodal transportation, does not have 
the resources to fully carry out these important responsibilities. The 
Office of the Secretary's broad responsibility for overseeing national 
transportation policy and promoting intermodal transportation seems to 
suggest that OST would be a logical choice to lead and coordinate DOT's 
intermodal efforts and these near-term actions. 

Beyond these near-term actions, the nation is at a crossroads regarding 
the future of intermodal transportation policy. As we have said in the 
past, the uncertain financial condition of the Highway Trust Fund, the 
lack of assurance that projects that best meet mobility needs are being 
selected and funded, and the increase in congestion on all modes have 
necessitated a fundamental reassessment of existing federal 
transportation programs, including the appropriate federal role and 
funding strategy. As Congress and DOT conduct this reassessment, it 
will be important to consider intermodal transportation in this larger 
context in order to move closer to the goal of a National Intermodal 
Transportation System. 

Recommendation for Executive Action: 

To address barriers to intermodal transportation and make it less 
difficult for state and local transportation agencies to plan and 
construct intermodal projects, we recommend that the Secretary of 
Transportation direct one office or operating administration to lead 
and coordinate the following near-term actions: 

* Increase collaboration between operating administrations and: 

* Improve availability of intermodal guidance and resources by 
publicizing the availability of existing federal resources on 
intermodal transportation and develop a mechanism to make these 
resources easily accessible. 

We recognize that the Office of Intermodalism is statutorily 
responsible for coordinating and initiating federal policy on 
intermodal transportation; however, the office does not have the 
resources to fully carry out these important responsibilities and is 
currently focused on conducting and coordinating research and analysis. 
As a result, DOT may want to seek legislative authority to respond to 
our recommendation. 

Agency Comments: 

We provided a draft of this report to DOT for review and comment. We 
received written comments, in which the department agreed to consider 
the report's recommendation and stated that the report provides a 
starting point for constructive discussions between the Executive 
Branch and Congress on innovative solutions to intermodal challenges. 
(See app. II for DOT's written comments.) The comments also highlighted 
specific intermodal efforts that the department has undertaken. The 
department also acknowledged obstacles to intermodal transportation-- 
such as the existing funding and oversight structure and the increasing 
use of project designated funding in each reauthorization since ISTEA-
-and suggested that further congressional action is needed to overcome 
these obstacles. In addition, the department offered technical 
comments, which we incorporated where appropriate. 

As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents 
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days 
from the report date. At that time, we will send copies of this report 
to the appropriate congressional committees and to the Secretary of 
Transportation. We will also make copies available to others upon 
request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on the 
GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-2834 or siggerudk@gao.gov. Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions 
to this report are listed in appendix III. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

Katherine Siggerud: 
Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To identify the barriers that inhibit intermodal transportation, we 
reviewed reports from the National Commission on Intermodal 
Transportation, GAO, the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the 
Intermodal Transportation Institute, the Congressional Budget Office, 
the Texas Transportation Institute, and the Federal Transportation 
Advisory Group, among others. We also conducted semistructured 
interviews with several industry associations to identify intermodal 
barriers. In addition, we conducted semistructured interviews with 
officials from DOT's Office of the Secretary for Policy (OST-P) and 
seven operating administrations, four state-level DOTs, four 
metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), and several university 
transportation centers to understand whether and how the intermodal 
barriers we identified from reports and interviews impeded the planning 
and implementation of intermodal transportation projects for freight 
and passengers. Many officials, who have been involved with intermodal 
transportation projects for freight and passengers, provided feedback 
on the list, and contributed corrections and additions to the list. 

We selected seven operating administrations based on the specific role 
the administration has in passenger and/or freight intermodal 
transportation or intermodal policy. We did not interview officials 
from the remaining DOT operating administrations, such as the National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, because we determined that their 
roles in passenger and/or freight intermodal transportation are 
limited. We selected the four state DOTs and the four MPOs--based on 
recommendations from the DOT officials and a transportation expert we 
interviewed--as state DOTs and MPOs that were involved in intermodal 
transportation projects for freight and passengers, the size of the 
population of the state and MPO area, and geographic dispersion. In 
addition, we interviewed several industry associations, university 
transportation centers, and a transportation expert recommended to us 
by DOT officials to better understand the benefits and challenges of 
intermodal transportation. We also met with representatives from 
private companies, including APL Limited, APM Terminal North America/ 
Maersk Shipping (logistics companies), Burlington Northern Santa Fe 
Railway (freight rail company), the Ports of Los Angeles and Long 
Beach, and the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority. See table 
3 for a list of all of the transportation agencies and organizations we 
contacted. 

To determine what actions DOT and the Office of Intermodalism is 
taking--and could take--to address intermodal barriers and support the 
intermodal goal, we analyzed information gathered from our interviews 
with officials from several of DOT's operating administrations, the 
Office of Intermodalism, state DOTs, MPOs, industry associations, and 
university transportation centers. The interviews were designed to gain 
federal, state and local officials' perspectives on a number of topics, 
including the role of DOT in intermodal transportation; the barriers to 
intermodal transportation; and DOT's actions to address the barriers. 
We also analyzed legislative histories, agency documentation on the 
actions DOT has been taking to address intermodal barriers and reviewed 
published reports from GAO, TRB, and others about intermodal 
transportation issues for freight and passengers and the future of 
transportation policy in the United States. 

Table 3: List of Transportation Agencies and Organizations Contacted: 

DOT's operating administrations: 
FAA;  
FHWA;  
FMCSA; 
FRA; 
FTA; 
MARAD; 
OST; 
RITA; 

State DOTs: 
California (Caltrans); 
Florida; 
Illinois; 
New Jersey; 

MPOs: 
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (Philadelphia, PA); 
Metro (Portland, OR); 
North Central Texas Council of Governments (Dallas/Fort Worth, TX); 
Southern California Association of Governments; 

University transportation centers: 
Intermodal Transportation Institute at Denver University; 
METRANS Transportation Center at the University of Southern California 
and California State University, Long Beach; 
Mountain-Plains Consortium: Center of Excellence for Rural and 
Intermodal Transportation at North Dakota State University; 
National Center for Transit Research at the University of South 
Florida; 

Industry associations: 
Air Transport Association; 
American Association of Port Authorities; 
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; 
American Public Transportation Association; 
American Trucking Association; 
Association of American Railroads; 
Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.;
Intermodal Association of North America; 
Surface Transportation Policy Project; 

Transportation expert: 
Dr. Robert Martinez, Vice President, Marketing Services and 
International, Norfolk Southern Corporation. (Former Associate Deputy 
Secretary of the U.S. DOT, former Secretary of Transportation for 
Virginia, and member of the Comptroller General's Advisory Committee). 

Private industry: 
Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority; 
APL Limited; 
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway; 
APM Terminals North America/Maersk Shipping; 
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

We assessed the reliability of the information contained in this report 
through interviews with knowledgeable officials and reviews of 
documentation and corroborating information, and we determined it was 
sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We conducted our work from 
August 2006 through May 2007, in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Comments from Department of Transportation: 

U.S. Department of Transportation: 
Assistant Secretary for Administration: 
400 Seventh St., S.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20590: 

Jun 12 2007: 

Ms. Katherine Siggerud: 
Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, NW: 
Washington, DC 20458: 

Dear Ms. Siggerud, 

The Department of Transportation has made significant progress in 
coordinating the efforts of its modal operating administrations to 
develop intermodal transportation system improvements. Intermodal 
projects can offer improved links between highways, rail, transit, 
aviation, and maritime modes. These efforts, which are based on 
congressional direction beginning with the Intermodal Surface 
Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and continuing through 
departmental initiatives such as One DOT and the Southern California 
National Freight Gateway Team, have enabled the Department to integrate 
intermodal objectives in its planning, program implementation and 
research activities. The evolution of a unified departmental approach 
has led to intermodal successes including projects in Chicago, Denver, 
Miami, New Haven, and the Port of Long Beach. Each of these projects 
required effective communication and coordination among multiple 
operating administrations. 

Within the Department, the Office of the Secretary (OST) provides a 
focal point for intermodal activities and offers the perspective and 
leadership necessary to address and coordinate efforts on intermodal 
transportation issues. OST's intermodal focus starts with the Secretary 
and her Executive Management Team meetings, which are intended to 
coordinate actions among the Department's leadership, and continues 
through each of the organizations within OST. OST's intermodal 
leadership is particularly evident in examples ranging from its 
coordination of the transportation response to Hurricane Katrina, to 
its leadership on the Department's Credit Council, an intermodal team 
intended to provide fully coordinated and integrated review and 
oversight of the Department's transportation loan and loan guarantee 
portfolio. The Department's ongoing Congestion Initiative also promotes 
systemic intermodal objectives, as evidenced by its Urban Partnership 
Agreements component, which has received a wide range of proposals from 
every major city in the United States. These proposals are being 
reviewed by an intermodal team of representatives from all of the modal 
operating administrations. OST's efforts have also been enhanced 
through the Department's Intermodal Council, which is intended to 
further strengthen our intermodal focus. 

Despite the progress that has been achieved, obstacles remain in 
advancing intermodal programs and projects. One key obstacle is the 
funding and oversight structure that remains keyed to individual 
transportation modes, and the increasing use of project designated 
funding in each reauthorization since ISTEA. A dedicated, discretionary 
funding stream for intermodal projects could greatly facilitate 
additional focused intermodal activities. The Department requires 
sufficient resources to provide vigorous and meaningful intermodal 
leadership. It also requires the flexibility to use these resources to 
create, implement and manage programs which focus on the most worthy 
intermodal transportation projects. As resources become increasingly 
constrained, the Department must be empowered to focus significant 
project investments to address national and regional needs and leverage 
those investments to achieve maximum benefits. The Department has 
demonstrated the capability to take such actions. For example, programs 
such as the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts Program have 
highlighted the Department's ability to focus discretionary funding on 
those projects with demonstrated benefits, local commitment, and the 
management skills necessary to bring them to fruition. 

The Government Accountability Office analysis provides a starting point 
for constructive discussions between the Executive Branch and Congress 
on innovative solutions to intermodal challenges. The Department will 
consider the "draft report's recommendation to designate a specific 
office to lead intermodal actions; however, creating a dedicated 
funding stream for intermodal projects based upon intermodal 
performance criteria and refocusing the appropriation and oversight 
processes from a modal to an intermodal structure may offer greater 
potential for strengthening the Department's intermodal efforts. 

We appreciate the opportunity to offer comments on the draft report. 
Please contact Martin Gertel, Director of Audit Relations, on 202-366- 
5145 with any questions. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Linda J. Washington: 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Katherine Siggerud (202) 512-2834 or siggerudk@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the above, Sara Vermillion, Assistant Director; Ashley 
Alley; Jay Cherlow; Jennifer Clayborne; Michelle Dresben; Edda 
Emmanuelli-Perez; Foster Kerrison; Jay Smale; and Stan Stenersen made 
key contributions to this report. 

[End of section] 

Bibliography: 

Committee on the Intermodal Challenge: Freight Transportation Issues 
for the 21st Century. Global Intermodal Freight: State of Readiness for 
the 21st Century. Report of a Conference. Washington, D.C.: 2001. 

Goetz, Andrew R., and Timothy Vowles. "Progress in Intermodal Passenger 
Transportation: Private Sector Initiatives." Transportation Law 
Journal, vol. 27, no. 3 (2000). 

Handman, Arthur, "Intermodalism--A Solution for Highway Congestion at 
the Millennium?" The Review of Policy Research, vol. 19, no. 2 (2002). 

National Commission on Intermodal Transportation (NCIT). Toward a 
National Intermodal Transportation System: Final Report. Washington, 
D.C.: September 1994. 

Shane, Jeffrey N. Statement of The Honorable Jeffrey N. Shane Under 
Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of 
Transportation (Testimony presented at the Hearing on Intermodalism 
Before the Subcommittee on Highways, Transit, and Pipelines, Committee 
on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives. 
Washington, D.C.: June 2006). 

Sherry, Patrick. Intermodalism: The Transportation Imperative for the 
21st Century (Testimony presented at the Hearing on Intermodalism 
Before the Subcommittee on Highways, Transit, and Pipelines, Committee 
on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives. 
Washington, D.C.: June 2006). 

Transportation Research Board National Research Council (TRB NRC), 
Institutional Barriers to Intermodal Transportation Policies and 
Planning in Metropolitan Areas. Washington, D.C.: 1996. 

Transportation Research Board, Special Report 271: Freight Capacity for 
the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: 2003. 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Secretary. Department 
of Transportation Strategic Plan: New Ideas for a Nation on the Move, 
Fiscal Years 2006-2011. Washington, D.C.: September 2006. 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. NHS 
Intermodal Freight Connectors: A Report to Congress. Washington, D.C.: 
December 2000. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-07-310. Washington, D.C.: January 
2007. 

Intercity Passenger Rail: National Policy and Strategies Needed to 
Maximize Public Benefits from Federal Expenditures. GAO-07-15. 
Washington, D.C.: November 13, 2006. 

Transportation Research: Opportunities for Improving the Oversight of 
DOT's Research Programs and User Satisfaction with Transportation 
Statistics. GAO-06-917. Washington, D.C.: August 15, 2006. 

Intermodal Transportation: Challenges to and Potential Strategies for 
Developing Improved Intermodal Capabilities. GAO-06-855T. Washington, 
D.C.: June 15, 2006. 

Results-Oriented Government: Practices that Can Help Enhance and 
Sustain Collaboration Among Federal Agencies. GAO-06-15. Washington, 
D.C.: October 21, 2005. 

Highway Congestion: Intelligent Transportation Systems' Promise for 
Managing Congestion Falls Short, and DOT Could Better Facilitate Their 
Strategic Use. GAO-05-943. Washington, D.C.: September 14, 2005. 

Freight Transportation: Short Sea Shipping Option Shows Importance of 
Systematic Approach to Public Investment Decisions. GAO-05-768. 
Washington, D.C.: July 29, 2005. 

Intermodal Transportation: Potential Strategies Would Redefine Federal 
Role in Developing Airport Intermodal Capabilities. GAO-05-727. 
Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2005. 

Highlights of an Expert Panel: The Benefits and Costs of Highway and 
Transit Investments. GAO-05-423SP. Washington, D.C.: May 6, 2005. 

21ST Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal 
Government. GAO-05-325SP. Washington, D.C.: February 2005. 

Highway and Transit Investments: Options for Improving Information on 
Projects' Benefits and Costs and Increasing Accountability for Results. 
GAO-05-172. Washington, D.C.: January 24, 2005. 

Surface Transportation: Many Factors Affect Investment Decisions. GAO- 
04-744. Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2004. 

Freight Transportation: Strategies Needed to Address Planning and 
Financing Limitations. GAO-04-165. Washington, D.C.: December 19, 2003. 

Transportation Infrastructure: Alternative Financing Mechanisms for 
Surface Transportation. GAO-02-1126T. Washington, D.C.: September 25, 
2002. 

Marine Transportation: Federal Financing and a Framework for 
Infrastructure Investments. GAO-02-1033. Washington, D.C.: September 9, 
2002. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] 49 U.S.C. § 5501. 

[2] National Commission on Intermodal Transportation (NCIT), Toward a 
National Intermodal Transportation System: Final Report (Washington, 
D.C.: September 1994); Transportation Research Board National Research 
Council (TRB NRC), Institutional Barriers to Intermodal Transportation 
Policies and Planning in Metropolitan Areas (Washington, D.C.: 1996); 
GAO, Intermodal Transportation: Potential Strategies Would Redefine 
Federal Role in Developing Airport Intermodal Capabilities, GAO-05-727 
(Washington, D.C.: July 26, 2005). GAO, Intermodal Transportation: 
Challenges to and Potential Strategies for Developing Improved 
Intermodal Capabilities, GAO-06-855T (Washington, D.C.: June 15, 2006). 

[3] GAO, 21st Century Challenges: Reexamining the Base of the Federal 
Government, GAO-05-325SP (Washington, D.C.: February 2005) and GAO-06-
855T. 

[4] GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-07-310 (Washington, D.C.: 
January 2007). 

[5] GAO-06-855T. 

[6] NCIT, Toward a National Intermodal Transportation System: Final 
Report. 

[7] Handman, Arthur, "Intermodalism--A Solution for Highway Congestion 
at the Millennium?" The Review of Policy Research, vol. 19, no. 2 
(2002). 

[8] Passenger rail uses private-sector rail in some regions where 
intercity rail is colocated with freight rail lines and vice versa. The 
owner operator situation can be complicated by publicly owned 
facilities being operated by the private sector (ports, rail yards, 
etc.) 

[9] Federal policy for aviation is established through legislation 
separate from surface transportation policy. The planning and funding 
of U.S. airports is addressed under Vision 100-Century of Aviation 
Reauthorization Act, which will expire in October 2007. This act 
authorizes funds for airport development and capital improvements, and 
while it does encourage the development of intermodal connections 
between airports and other local surface transportation systems, the 
primary focus of funding is on airfield and terminal infrastructure. 

[10] As we have reported, Amtrak relies heavily on federal subsidies-- 
over $1 billion annually in recent years--and operating losses have 
remained high. In addition, Amtrak will require billions of dollars to 
address deferred maintenance and achieve a "state of good repair," 
which is the outcome expected from the capital investment needed to 
restore Amtrak's right-of-way (track, signals, and auxiliary 
structures), other infrastructure (e.g., stations), and equipment to a 
condition that requires only routine maintenance. GAO, Intercity 
Passenger Rail: National Policy and Strategies Needed to Maximize 
Public Benefits from Federal Expenditures, GAO-07-15 (Washington, D.C.: 
Nov. 13, 2006). 

[11] 23 U.S.C. § 135, 49 U.S.C. § 5304, 23 C.F.R. Part 450, 49 C.F.Rg. 
Part 613. 

[12] This is the same provision that the Office of Intermodalism is 
given express responsibility for carrying out in its authorizing 
statute. Under the law, the board is supposed to provide 
recommendations on how best to fulfill this section, and the Office of 
Intermodalism is supposed to carry out the section. 

[13] TRB, Special Report 271: Freight Capacity for the 21st Century 
(Washington, D.C.: 2003). 

[14] The congestion management system in certain areas was not made 
optional by the NHS Act. Six states--Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, 
Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin--have defined, or are in the process 
of defining, statewide strategic multimodal transportation systems, 
which contain only the most critical components of passenger and 
freight transportation infrastructure. 

[15] The Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act 
was passed on November 30, 2004. The actual transfer of the Office of 
Intermodalism to RITA took place on February 22, 2005. 

[16] NCIT, Toward a National Intermodal Transportation System: Final 
Report; GAO-06-855T; and Committee on the Intermodal Challenge, Global 
Intermodal Freight: State of Readiness for the 21st Century, Report of 
a Conference. 

[17] GAO-04-744. 

[18] Under the Truman-Hobbs Act, the federal government provides funds 
toward the cost of altering publicly owned highway and railroad bridges 
that obstruct the free movement of marine traffic. 

[19] Lift-span rail bridges are those that, when river traffic needs to 
pass under the bridge, a span of the bridge is raised vertically using 
two high towers and counterweights located on either side of the 
navigational channel to provide adequate clearance. 

[20] Federal air quality standards exist for certain air pollutants 
(known as criteria pollutants). Geographic areas that have levels of a 
criteria pollutant above those allowed by the standards are called 
nonattainment areas. Areas that did not meet the standards for a 
criteria pollutant in the past but have reached attainment are known as 
maintenance areas. 

[21] GAO-06-855T. 

[22] Ibid. 

[23] GAO, Freight Transportation: Strategies Needed to Address Planning 
and Financing Limitations, GAO-04-165 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 19, 
2003). 

[24] U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 
NHS Intermodal Freight Connectors: A Report to Congress (Washington, 
D.C.: December 2000). 

[25] GAO-04-744 and GAO-05-727. 

[26] TRB, Special Report 271: Freight Capacity for the 21st Century. 

[27] GAO-05-727. 

[28] GAO, Highway Congestion: Intelligent Transportation Systems' 
Promise for Managing Congestion Falls Short, and DOT Could Better 
Facilitate Their Strategic Use, GAO-05-943 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 14, 
2005). 

[29] GAO, Transportation Research: Opportunities for Improving the 
Oversight of DOT's Research Programs and User Satisfaction with 
Transportation Statistics, GAO-06-917 (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 15, 
2006). 

[30] GAO, Surface Transportation: Reorganization, Program 
Restructuring, and Budget Issues, GAO/T-RCED-95-103 (Washington, D.C.: 
Feb. 13, 1995). 

[31] According to DOT officials, the Freight Professional Development 
Program was initiated prior to the passage of SAFETEA-LU and has been 
expanded with the requirements in SAFETEA-LU. 

[32] 49 U.S.C. 5503. 

[33] Jeffrey N. Shane, Statement of The Honorable Jeffrey N. Shane 
Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of 
Transportation (Testimony presented at the Subcommittee on Highways, 
Transit, and Pipelines; Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
U.S. House of Representatives (Washington, D.C.: June 15, 2006)). 

[34] 49 U.S.C. 5503(c). 

[35] GAO-05-325SP and GAO-07-310. 

[36] GAO, Results-Oriented Government: Practices that Can Help Enhance 
and Sustain Collaboration Among Federal Agencies, GAO-06-15 
(Washington, D.C.: Oct. 21, 2005). 

[37] DOT's Strategic Plan 2006-2011. 

[38] DOT's Performance and Accountability Report for fiscal year 2006. 

[39] TRB, Committee on the Intermodal Challenge: Freight Transportation 
Issues for the 21st Century. Global Intermodal Freight: State of 
Readiness for the 21st Century. Report of a Conference (Washington, 
D.C.: 2001). 

[40] GAO-06-15. 

[41] GAO-05-325SP. 

[42] GAO-07-310. 

[43] In January 2007, we identified the financing of the nation's 
transportation system as one of the new high-risk areas. 

[44] GAO-06-855T. 

[45] GAO-07-310. 

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