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Policy Statement 149 - Intermodal Transportation Systems

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on August 8, 2014

Approved by the Public Policy Committee on August 13, 2014

Adopted by the Board of Direction on October 5, 2014


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports developing a national intermodal transportation program that moves people and freight in a safe, secure, economically-efficient, sustainable and environmentally-sound manner. An infrastructure with these qualities allows the United States to compete in the increasingly global economy. 


A national intermodal transportation program is needed to provide flexible funding options for highway, transit, air, water and other intermodal systems.  Developing a unified system is currently hindered by the lack of a program focused on intermodal connectivity, as well as the difficulty of forming partnerships between competing private firms. A national program would promote:

  • collaboration between separate transportation agencies;
  • cost-effective planning, design and construction of intermodal connections;
  • equality in federal matching ratios for different transportation modes; and
  • consolidating funding for intermodal projects.


An appropriately planned and designed intermodal transportation system is recognized as the catalyst to building and maintaining successful communities. Federal regulations support that idea, requiring that “each State...carry out a continuing, comprehensive, and intermodal statewide transportation planning process.” Plans and programs should “lead to the development and operation of an integrated intermodal transportation system that facilitates the efficient, economically beneficial movement of people and goods.”

The goal of a national program would be to provide funding for intermodal projects that would relieve congestion, improve transportation safety, facilitate international trade, and encourage public-private partnerships. Developing a national intermodal surface transportation program would require that the current program’s operations be restructured to ensure that agencies work collaboratively to integrate different modes of transportation.

ASCE Policy Statement 149

First Approved pre-1974