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  May 10th, 2016 | Written by

California Issues Draft Plan for Freight System of the Future

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  • California freight plan was drafted by multiple state agencies with broad stakeholder input.
  • California governor ordered agencies to pursue a shared freight transportation vision.
  • California freight plan articulates shared vision to improve system efficiency while reducing its pollution.

State agency leaders in California last week released the Draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a document that lays a foundation for modernizing California’s multi-billion-dollar freight transportation system.

Developed in response to Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-32-15, which calls for a single integrated action plan for California, the plan was drafted by the California State Transportation Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Agency, California Air Resources Board, California

Department of Transportation, California Energy Commission, and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development with broad stakeholder input.

The Executive Order directs the state agencies to pursue a shared vision to “improve freight efficiency, transition to zero-emission technologies and increase the competitiveness of California’s freight system.”

California’s freight system is the most extensive and interconnected freight system in the United States and is composed of several deep water seaports, cargo airports, border crossings, and a vast warehousing and distribution sector, all connected by a network of over 11,000 miles of railroad track and interstate and state highways. California’s freight-dependent industries accounted for more than $740 billion in revenue and more than five-million jobs in 2014.

Emissions from ships, harbor craft, trucks, locomotives, cargo equipment, aircraft and other freight participants account for about half of toxic diesel particulate matter, 45 percent of the emissions of nitrogen oxides that form ozone and fine particulate matter in the atmosphere, and six percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in California. Many of these pollutants are emitted in close proximity to

communities and pose health risks to nearby residents, highlighting the need for additional steps to protect public health.


The Draft Action Plan responds to the Governor’s Executive Order by articulating one shared vision to improve the efficiency of California’s freight system while reducing its pollution, all the while bolstering the competitiveness of California’s goods movement system nationally and internationally.

Components of the Action Plan include a long-term vision, targets, and guiding principles for California’s future freight transport system; a goal of improving freight system efficiency 25 percent by 2030; deploy over 100,000 zero-emission vehicles by 2020; identifying opportunities to leverage state freight transport system investment; and pilot projects to achieve concrete progress in the near-term.

“Future investments of public dollars in freight require a smart approach that accounts for both environmental stewardship and the need for new infrastructure to accommodate a growing freight sector,” said State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly. “While some may see these as competing priorities, this Draft Action Plan suggests we don’t have to choose between these important objectives, but can achieve both through more prudent planning and investment. I look forward to perfecting the document with input from our many stakeholders in the days ahead.”

Achieving the Draft Action Plan’s objectives will require strategic partnerships and well-coordinated investments in new technologies and major infrastructure upgrades, Kelly noted. The plan provides an opportunity for leveraging new federal, State, local and private investment for these freight transport system improvements.