Approximately 40% of US freight traveling over 500 miles, travels by truck. That is approximately 1 TRILLION ton miles. That requires something like 8 BILLION gallons of diesel. That is approximately 800 MILLION metric tons of CO2. This is a problem even if there wasn't a climate crisis. What about congestion? Wear and tear on public roads? Tire pollution? Public safety and public health?
Freight travelling more than 500 miles has no business being on our public roads when it could be moved more cleanly and efficiently on rails. It is just common sense. Sadly, neither Governor Inslee nor his Secy. of Transportation Roger Millar nor his DOT have any plan for getting this freight off our roads and onto tracks.
Solutionary Rail has collected some of the data with the limited tools we have access to. The graphics below are generated by the Texas A&M's TTI Congestion study inputting Seattle into the interactive tool HERE.
Solutionary Rail has also utilized the robust data available through the Freight Analysis Framework Data Tool HERE to determine the amount of freight originating and terminating in Seattle that traveled (by land) more than 500 miles. See spreadsheet HERE.
Note that in 2017, 54 BILLION ton miles of freight traveling 500 miles or more was moved by diesel trucks on taxpayer funded roads in Washington state. Trains moved only 61 BILLION ton miles of that long distance freight, despite rail being a far more efficient and clean method for transport.
Knowing this, we'd like Governor Inslee's office to initiate an effort with Secy. Millar, WashDOT, and the legislative Loint Transportation to get answers to these important questions regarding truck freight moving 500 miles or more:
- How much of this congestion documented in the TTI study is caused by large trucks transporting freight 500 miles or more?
- How much is the wear and tear from those trucks travelling over 500 miles costing Washington state taxpayers?
- What is the level of GHG emissions from those trucks?
- What are the public health impacts from the diesel pollution caused by those trucks?
- How much would taxpayers save if that freight travelled by train instead?
- What investments and policies need to be made to get that freight off our roads and on to tracks?
Everyone should be interested in the answers to the above questions. The existing tools (FAF and TTI) are useful but inadequate, and the public deserves answers and transparency related to transportation spending and the impacts of our current broken system.
Our "Climate Governor's" recent climate action outline mentions trucks once in passing, never brings up the issue of freight, and his only mention of rail relates to a boondoggle proposed by Bill Gates to line the pockets of big engineering firms and real estate developers. Governor Inslee has no excuse. We've been begging for his attention to the Solutionary Rail proposal for years. We've repeatedly petitioned and raised concerns about his and Gate's ultra-boondoggle and its fundamental inability to address real and immediate climate and public interest concerns related to transportation, energy and more.
We need your help, to once again attempt to shake him and his administration from its arrogant complacency and fundamental failure by the Governor and the Washington state Legislature to address the mounting harms posed by diesel-powered long-haul freight.
Please contact Governor Inslee's office and your legislative representatives to press for real answers and real transportation solutions.
- If you would like to learn more: Check out our 3 minute video and get coupon for a free download of the book HERE
- Then see our Facts and False Solutions brief on higher versus high and "ultra" high speed rail HERE
- Our 2030 Moonshot Modeshift update to the book with lessons learned and the priority of mode shifting freight from trucks to trains.
- For WA state, here's a proposal we fully support, Thomas White's proposal for a Central-Eastern WA Rail proposal