The strong productivity gains in the U.S. economy have hinged in part on transportation networks working more efficiently. The nation's ports, which handle 95 percent of overseas freight tonnage, are a key link in this network, and efficient intermodal links between ship, rail, and highways are vital to continued productivity gains. GAO was asked to address (1) the challenges to freight mobility, (2) the limitations key stakeholders have encountered in addressing these challenges, and (3) strategies that may aid decision makers in enhancing freight mobility. GAO's work was based on a synthesis of previous studies and a review of conditions at 10 ports and surrounding areas that handle almost two-thirds of all containers moving in and out of the country.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. To encourage the use of sound evaluation and data collection efforts among state and local transportation planners, the Secretary of Transportation should develop evaluation approaches for state and local planners to use in making freight-related and other transportation investment decisions and actively work with transportation planners to achieve implementation of these approaches. In developing these approaches, DOT should promote the incorporation of key elements of effective planning, including systematic cost-benefit analyses, evaluation of noncapital alternatives, inclusion of external benefits (e.g., congestion and pollution costs), and routine performance of retrospective evaluations.|
|Department of Transportation||2. To encourage the use of sound evaluation and data collection efforts among state and local transportation planners, the Secretary of Transportation should facilitate the collection of freight-relevant data that would allow state and local planners to develop and use a broad range of evaluation methods and techniques, such as demand forecasts, modal diversion forecasts, estimates of effects of proposed investments on congestion and pollution, and other factors, as they make transportation investment choices.|