California Releases Plan to Transform Freight Transportation System
California state agency leaders have released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transportation system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.
The plan was devised in response to an executive order issued last year by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., which called for a single integrated state action plan. The order directed 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.”
The revised document is similar to the draft version issued in May 2016, but reflects new input provided by industry, labor, regional and local government, and community and environmental group stakeholders, who submitted more than 85 comments on the draft plan.
“We listened to stakeholders, incorporated changes, and we will continue to consult with them as we put the plan into action” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This dialogue—and a commitment to shared responsibility for and ownership of this plan—is the underpinning for the successful transformation of our freight transport system and the multiple benefits it will bring to our environment, communities and our economy.”
Among other things, the Action Plan calls for improving the state’s freight system efficiency by 25 percent by 2030 and deploying over 100,000 zero-emission vehicles by 2020. The plan also identifies opportunities to leverage state freight transportation system investments and lists possible pilot projects to achieve concrete progress in the near term.
The final plan places more focus on key partnerships and a discussion of toxic hot spots. Changes were also been made throughout the document to clarify and emphasize the collaboration between the responsible agencies and other regional planning efforts, including funding.
Next steps for state agencies will include continued work with federal, state, industry, labor, regional, local, and environmental and community-based partners to refine and prioritize the strategies and actions outlined in the Action Plan. The state agencies will also create collaborative stakeholder working groups on competitiveness, system efficiency, workforce developments, and regulatory and permitting process improvements.
Regular California Freight Advisory Committee meetings will continue, and by July 2017, the state agencies will establish work plans for chosen pilot projects.
California is the largest gateway for international trade and domestic commerce in the United States. The state’s transportation system is responsible for one-third of the state’s economic product and jobs, with freight dependent industries accounting for over $740 billion in gross domestic product and over five million jobs in 2014.
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