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Integrating Freight Into Highway Planning

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, December 26th, 2013

STRATEGIC HIGHWAY RESEARCH PROGRAM 2
TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD

About the Guide

The nation’s freight shippers, receivers, and carriers depend on transportation agencies to provide new highway capacity to meet the demands of growing domestic commerce and international trade. Yet, the traditional highway planning process has not broadly engaged these freight stakeholders in the planning process. As state departments of transportation (DOT) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) make efforts to improve the quality of their interaction with the freight community, SHRP 2 C15, Integrating Freight Considerations in Additions to the Highway Capacity Planning Process, offers timely guidance and best practices examples. Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP 2) C15 was developed primarily through interviews and case studies collected through discussions with public and private-sector freight stakeholders across the U.S. The case studies and other research culminated in a guide that utilizes the four-phase SHRP 2 highway planning framework to help agencies know when, how, and who to engage from the freight stakeholder community at each stage: Long-Range Transportation Planning, Corridor Planning, Programming, and Environmental Planning and Permitting.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 History of Freight Planning

The practice of freight transportation planning has evolved significantly over the last decade, catalyzed by the enhanced freight planning requirements embodied in Safe Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and a growing national concern about insufficient freight capacity. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), state DOTs, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) – the entities largely responsible for planning, programming, and delivering transportation projects – have started to invest in personnel, training, data, and consulting expertise to build freight programs that take into account the needs of freight stakeholders. This rise of freight planning reflects a broadening recognition of the economic, social, and environmental benefits of efficient goods movement. More recently, freight planning acknowledges the risk of diminishing transportation infrastructure productivity without wise planning and reinvestment, especially in our national highway system. Legislation reauthorizing the National highway program, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), enacted in July of 2012, enhances many of the concepts relating to freight from SAFETEA-LU, including the endorsement of freight advisory groups and development of statewide freight plans. As it is implemented, the law will help institutionalize many of the recent efforts to improve freight planning practices by DOTs and MPOs and promote freight mobility and capacity as very critical issues for planners throughout the United States to consider (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/).

Since the completion of the Interstate system in the 1970s, our nation’s highways have become our commercial lifeline. Even with the recent resurgence of freight- rail in the U.S., the 2007 Commodity Flow Survey (CFS) shows that trucks continue to move nearly one-half of all freight ton-miles (46 percent, the same proportion as freight-rail). More importantly, the CFS indicates that U.S. highways carry the vast majority of commodity value – over $9.5 trillion in 2007, representing nearly 90 percent of national freight value and nearly 70 percent of 2007 gross domestic product (GDP). These statistics represent unprecedented growth of freight movement across all modes – especially highways – made possible by the capacity investments of previous decades, freight modal deregulation, technology, consumer affluence, and international trade.

Interest in freight planning surged in the late 1990s as the freight industry and policy-makers realized that productivity gains from earlier investments were beginning to diminish. Around that time, the national freight system, particularly the highway and road network, began to show signs of overload as freight and passenger growth outpaced capacity. This mismatch was most

pronounced in major urban areas that suffered from heavy congestion and highway bottlenecks, slowing the movement of trucks and adding to the cost of transportation. The pace of growth also began to overwhelm some rural Interstate highways and other U.S. and state arterials as both freight and passenger traffic increased without commensurate investment in new lane-mile capacity. Moreover, it became increasingly apparent that highway system redundancy was lacking, forcing vehicles to travel, for example, on a single, critical corridor1 and endure congestion because no reasonable alternate route was available.

To address these concerns, leading transportation organizations have developed a growing body of resources to inform and direct freight planning practice. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and other organizations have developed training materials, studies, and guides to foster expertise and to weave freight considerations into established planning processes. In addition, some states, MPOs, and other transportation planning and programming organizations have started to develop and implement sophisticated mechanisms to systematically and comprehensively address a broad spectrum of goods movement-related issues through their planning activities. While much progress has been made, there remains room for improvement as agencies place greater emphasis on the freight aspects of transportation planning in the future. This project – to synthesize and disseminate best practices of collaborative market-based highway-freight planning – comes at an important point in the country’s economic and transportation history as freight and passenger demand eclipse land system capacity.

To address these concerns, leading transportation organizations have developed a growing body of resources to inform and direct freight planning practice. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and other organizations have developed training materials, studies, and guides to foster expertise and to weave freight considerations into established planning processes. In addition, some states, MPOs, and other transportation planning and programming organizations have started to develop and implement sophisticated mechanisms to systematically and comprehensively address a broad spectrum of goods movement-related issues through their planning activities. While much progress has been made, there remains room for improvement as agencies place greater emphasis on the freight aspects of transportation planning in the future. This project – to synthesize and disseminate best practices of collaborative market-based highway-freight planning – comes at an important point in the country’s economic and transportation history as freight and passenger demand eclipse land system capacity.

Figure 1.1 Examples of Market-Based Freight Planning Considerations

Download full version (PDF): Integrating Freight Considerations into the Highway Capacity Planning Process

About the Strategic Highway Research Program 2
www.trb.org/StrategicHighwayResearchProgram2SHRP2/General.aspx

“SHRP 2 will focus on applied research in the following areas, which were identified by experts who began planning for the program in 1999.  The focus areas were selected on the basis of their importance to the nation’s economic system and quality of life and because strategically targeted research in these areas promises to yield high payoffs.”

About the Transportation Research Board
www.trb.org
“The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal.”

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