SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has appointed Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider to the National Freight Advisory Committee.
“I am very pleased that Illinois will be well represented on this important committee,” Governor Quinn said. “Secretary Schneider is representing Illinois and Midwest transportation interests as this influential panel designs a national freight policy that will serve and enhance the efficiency of regional and local highway, rail, airport, and inland waterway freight systems.”
Secretary Schneider’s appointment by US DOT recognizes Illinois’ central and important role as a transportation hub for the successful movement of freight for industry, agriculture, manufacturing, labor and business communities.
“I am honored to represent Illinois and to be a part of establishing freight policy for the nation,” Secretary Schneider said. “I will emphasize that we must view our national and regional modes of transportation as one transportation system, a system that must be viewed using a multi-modal, intermodal and sustainable lens in order to achieve more efficient, seamless, effective connections.”
The National Freight Advisory Committee will provide recommendations aimed at improving the national freight transportation system. A strong freight transportation system is critical to the nation’s economy and essential for helping meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
The recent transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, signed by President Obama in July 2012, established a national freight policy and called for the creation of a National Freight Strategic Plan. The Advisory Committee will provide recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation on how DOT can improve its freight transportation policies and programs. They will engage stakeholders representing diverse geographic, modal, and policy interests, such as safety, labor and the environment, while developing these recommendations.
Illinois’ extensive system of highways, rail, air, and inland waterways provides a critical service for local, regional, national and international freight systems. The northeastern Illinois region, including Chicago, ranks first in the nation and third in the world as the busiest intermodal transportation hub, and ranks third in the nation in terms of freight tonnage and in trucking and rail volume. Illinois also ranks second in rail intermodal movement and is served by all seven major nationwide railroads, connecting a vital national freight network spanning coast to coast, and from Canada to Mexico.
As head of the Illinois Department of Transportation, Secretary Schneider is responsible for all of the transportation systems in the state and appreciates the critical impact of freight movement on the economy of the state and the nation. Under her leadership, Illinois developed its first statewide Freight Mobility Plan as well as a State Rail Plan. These plans address not only highway and rail transport but also air and water transport. The plans represent a vision for transportation in Illinois that all modes be integrated, coordinated, planned, and built with the idea that present and future travel options are user focused, economically supportive, ecologically sensitive, and information centered.
“I will encourage the Advisory Committee to identify the gaps in our freight delivery network so we can address those problems and provide greater efficiency with our transportation systems,” Schneider said. “With Illinois’ freight tonnage estimated to increase by a third by 2040, we must prepare a regional and national transportation system capable of meeting the future challenges and opportunities of a global economy.”