WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is proposing to create a national freight investment program to help U.S. manufacturers and farmers move their goods more efficiently, as part of a $250 billion infrastructure plan her campaign unveiled on Monday.
Improving and strengthening the nation’s freight infrastructure is a key priority for retail groups such as the National Retail Federation, since its members transport billions of dollars’ worth of products across the country between retail distribution centers and stores every year.
Clinton, the front-runner for her party’s nomination, said the program would help connect small businesses, farmers and manufacturers to their customers and suppliers.
“U.S. transportation networks move nearly $48 billion in goods a day,” the Clinton campaign said in a series of fact sheets released on Monday. “Yet our insufficient freight infrastructure is preventing American businesses and farmers from reliably and efficiently moving their products to market, hurting U.S. consumers and damaging America’s ability to compete in the global economy.”
According to her campaign, U.S. businesses spend an additional $27 billion in transportation costs every year because of congestion in U.S. freight networks.
“Cargo trains can reach Chicago from Los Angeles in 48 hours, only to spend 30 hours crawling across Chicago itself,” the campaign said. “Clinton will make smart, coordinated investments that upgrade our aging rail tunnels and bridges, expand congested highway corridors, eliminate dangerous at-grade railway crossings and build deeper port channels to accommodate the newest and largest cargo ships.”
She would also focus on “intermodal” transfer points between trucks, rail and ships and “initiate upgrades” at more than 25 of the “most costly” freight bottlenecks by the end of her first term.
In addition to the $250 billion Clinton has proposed to upgrade the nation’s entire aging infrastructure, she is pledging to allocate another $25 billion to create a new national infrastructure bank that would provide loans, loan guarantees and other types of credit for transportation, water, energy, broadband and multimodal projects.
The Clinton campaign said the new investments would be offset by business tax reform, although no specifics were released.