Friday, August 3, 2012

They Almost Forgot That We Were Here!: Opportunity to Participate in FDOT Listening Session on Freight Mobility and Trade Plan

 Here's an opportunity to provide input to FDOT's development of its statewide Freight Mobility and Trade Plan.  Thanks to the Lee MPO for getting FDOT to add a listening session for SWFL.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Office of Freight, Logistics and Passenger Operations (FLP), actively seeking regional input as they work  to create a statewide Freight Mobility and Trade Plan, is hosting a series of Regional Listening Sessions during August.  
Although, original plans did not include any sessions in our region of the state; but at the behest of several local elected officials, the tour has been extended and a session here added.

The newly scheduled Regional Listening Session will be held the morning of:
 Wednesday, August 29
 9 am – 12 noon
 RSW Airport Training & Conference Center
15924 Air Cargo Ln, Fort Myers 33913

The building is on the north side of the airfield, and there is some limited parking available at the building.

It is very important that our region’s voice be included in this year-long statewide planning effort – an effort aimed at completely transforming Florida's freight system - and ultimately Florida's position in global trade and business.
House Bill 599, passed in the 2012 legislative session, requires FDOT to develop, by July 1, 2013, a Freight and Mobility Trade Plan.  This plan, to be developed in coordination with stakeholders throughout the state of Florida, will be used to prioritize future freight mobility investments. 
Using the widened Panama Canal and the improved Miami port as impetus, the goal is to transform Florida into a world-class, multi-hemispheric international trade center. Lee County MPO Director, Don Scott says this is about “attracting major, national and international, industries and game changing businesses to relocate or expand here.”  Freight issues and needs are to be "given emphasis in all appropriate transportation plans, including the Florida Transportation Plan and the Strategic Intermodal System Plan."

Seen as a means of enhancing the “integration and connectivity of the transportation system across and between transportation modes throughout the state”, this plan is to specifically address and promote the following:
1.       Increase both domestic and international shipments through the state’s seaports and airports with a particular focus on capturing cargo which currently passes through out-of-state ports.
2.       Develop intermodal logistics centers throughout the state, focusing particularly on “empty backhaul trucking and rail markets.”
3.       Focus investment in transportation facilities to promote the development and expansion of manufacturing facilities.
4.       Promote policies that will increase the availability of compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane (LNG) to reduce transportation costs.

The legislation also calls for a new Intermodal Logistics Center Infrastructure Support Program  within FDOT which is to coordinate with the Department of Economic Opportunity in selecting sites throughout the state for regional freight handling logistics centers or "inland ports".   The development of these centers and their requisite transportation infrastructure will be funded in part through the State Transportation Trust Fund.

This bill also mandates FDOT to develop in coordination with partners, a Statewide Seaport and Waterways System Plan.  And, it is to identify, at five, 10, and 20 year intervals, overall Seaport system needs, including ports, waterways, roads, and rail infrastructure needed to "ensure success of the transportation system as a whole in supporting state economic development goals."

Report by Ann Pierce

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