In the report released on September 26, Developing National Strategy Would Benefit from Added Focus on Community Congestion Impacts, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), recommends an increased focus on understanding local community impacts of freight transportation, including congestion, and development of clear goals, objectives, and strategies for reducing local impacts.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation
Though pollution is mentioned just once in the report, illness and deaths caused by diesel exhaust emissions are arguably the most damaging impacts of freight transportation on local communities, particularly those in the Primary Freight Network High Health Risk zone.
If appropriate Environmental Justice and public health goals, objectives, and strategies are developed and implemented, these recommendations could contribute to health improvement for millions of people.
Below is a summary of the GAO recommendations for the Executive Branch (emphases by this author). More summary information may be found here, and the complete report here.
Recommendation: In order to clarify the federal role related to freight-related local traffic congestion, in implementing MAP-21 and any subsequent reauthorization, in its final guidance on state freight plans, Secretary of Transportation should incorporate additional information to help states define and prioritize local community impacts of national freight movements, including traffic-congestion impacts, and to establish what data could be consistently collected and analyzed in order to prioritize impacts of freight on local traffic congestion.
Recommendation: In order to clarify the federal role related to freight-related local traffic congestion, in implementing MAP-21 and any subsequent reauthorization, the Secretary of Transportation should include in the National Freight Strategic Plan a written statement articulating the federal role in freight-related local congestion impacts, by clearly identifying potential objectives and goals (under the general area DOT has established for the Freight Transportation Conditions and Performance Report of reducing adverse environmental and community impacts) for mitigating local congestion caused by national freight movements and the type of role federal and state stakeholders could play in achieving each objective and goal, and including a written strategy for improving the availability of national data needed to quantify, assess, and establish measures on freight trends and impacts on local traffic congestion.