National Freight Strategic Plan unveiled

September 4, 2020

Mark Schremmer


The U.S. Department of Transportation has released its National Freight Strategic Plan, laying out “a vision for long-term investments in infrastructure, the workforce, and other essential parts of the freight system.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao unveiled the plan on Thursday, Sept. 3.

“The Department is unveiling the first-ever National Freight Strategic Plan so that the U.S. can maintain our competitive edge across major industries like agriculture, manufacturing, energy production and E-commerce,” Chao said in a news release.

According to the DOT, America’s transportation network annually moves more than 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $52 billion by using highways, railways, ports and inland waterways, pipelines and airports.

The plan is based around improving safety, infrastructure, and innovation, the DOT said.

Each category includes its own strategic objectives.


  • Support the development and adoption of automation, connectivity, and other freight safety technologies.
  • Modernize safety oversight and security procedures.
  • Minimize the effects of fatigue and human error on freight safety.
  • Reduce conflicts between passenger and freight traffic.
  • Protect the freight system from natural and human-caused disasters and improve system resilience and recovery speed.


  • Fund targeted investments in freight capacity and national goals.
  • Improve consideration of freight in transportation planning.
  • Prioritize projects that improve freight intermodal connectivity and enhance freight flows on first- and last-mile connectors at major trade gateways.
  • Develop a methodology for identifying freight bottlenecks across modes.
  • Advance freight system management and operation practices.
  • Stimulate job growth and economic competitiveness in rural and urban communities.
  • Mitigate the impacts of freight movement on communities.


  • Support the development and adoption of automation and connectivity, including V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technologies.
  • Support the safe deployment of unmanned aircraft systems technology.
  • Streamline or eliminate regulations to improve governance, efficiency, and economic competitiveness.
  • Improve freight data, modeling, and analytical tools and resources.
  • Strengthen workforce professional capacity.
  • Invest in freight research.
  • Support regulatory frameworks that foster freight innovation.

OOIDA comments

In February, OOIDA filed comments about the creation of the plan, saying that it must address deteriorating highway infrastructure, the truck parking crisis and overregulation.

“As DOT prepares its National Freight Strategic Plan, we urge the Department of consider improvements to the nation’s transportation system that would increase efficiencies and alleviate costs for small-business truckers,” OOIDA wrote in formal comments signed by President and CEO Todd Spencer.

“The NFSP must address deteriorating highway infrastructure that results in lost productivity and compensation for drivers. The plan also must prioritize fixing the nation’s truck parking crisis and address other institutional barriers, such as excessive detention time that can be mitigated through more practical federal policies.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.