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The Federal Highway Administration today released a draft proposal for designating the nation’s Primary Freight Network (PFN), a 27,000-mile highway system that carries significant freight volumes. The PFN will become part of the National Freight Network (NFN), which includes the remainder of the Interstate System and rural highways critical to freight movement that are to be identified by each state. The agency was required to identify the PFN by MAP-21 highway bill. Comments on the proposal are due December 19, 2013. Among the issues FHWA is seeking input on is the methodology and data sources used to identify routes; whether specific routes should be added, deleted or modified; whether critical urban corridors should be included; and how the NFN fits into a larger multi-modal freight network, and how should that network be defined. One overarching challenge identified in the Notice is the lack of Congressional direction as to how the PFN is to be utilized, which FHWA said makes it difficult to fulfill its mandate. Another issue is that the limitation on the number of miles, combined with the criteria for designation in MAP-21, prevents FHWA determined that the PFN would have to be 41,518 miles in length.

The Notice is available here. The draft PFN, including state and national maps and a table showing the miles of PFN highways by state is here. FHWA is conducting webinars to explain its proposal on Nov. 20, 1:00-2:30 ET and Dec. 6, 2:00-3:30 ET. Click here to sign up for the webinars.