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2-4 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Table 2.4. Categorization of existing freight program activities. Freight Planning Stage Characteristics Examples Basic Little or no freight-specific No freight-specific planning activi- planning activities ties have been attempted Few known freight data sources Area is a recently designated MPO Freight system needs are handled indirectly as part Little or no interaction to date MPO is beginning to recognize the of the overall transporta- with the private sector freight importance of freight planning, but tion program activities... community there is little advocacy for freight Limited knowledge of eco- planning within the organization, nomic base, industry, or specific limited resources, and staff is freight needs struggling with how to begin a freight planning program Freight system is addressed as part of larger transportation projects Advanced Some history of freight-specific MPO developed a freight profile or planning activities intermodal management system Freight system needs have Some interaction with private after ISTEA, but may not have begun to receive some sector stakeholders as part of a developed an implementable attention, however, they specific project program have not been fully Basic understanding of freight MPO developed a private sector integrated into the trans- or other such group, but may have system and its regional portation program since disbanded due to lack of importance activities... interest Freight program elements are beginning to form, leaders are MPO wants to build on some of the beginning to emerge ad hoc freight planning activities of the past, but is unsure how to link efforts together into a continuous process Based on this input, you can likely describe your freight planning program in one of two ways: basic or advanced. Table 2.4 provides a description of these two categories of freight planning. Note that the definitions of basic and advanced are meant to reflect the current practices of small- and medium-sized MPOs to provide Guidebook users with a starting point. The answers to the questions and your self-categorization will facilitate the selection of appro- priate freight activities. This process is described as follows. Step 3. Identification of Program Elements and Freight Planning Guidelines Step 3 builds on the results of Steps 1 and 2 to identify the appropriate mix of planning activ- ities to enhance an existing or to develop a new freight planning program. This step will be used to direct you to the component-specific guidelines for freight planning activities that are pro- vided in Module 3. Though freight planning activities differ from area to area depending on size, industry mix, freight system characteristics, and other factors, there are certain program elements that are included in every successful metropolitan freight planning program. Because each of these indi- vidual elements relates to each of the others, they are represented as a spectrum, rather than a collection of individual, sequential steps. The six elements that make up this spectrum are shown in Figure 2.1 and described in more detail following the figure.

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Getting Started 2-5 Institutional Outreach Project Data Support and Analysis Implementation Feedback Collection Partnerships Figure 2.1. Spectrum of freight transportation program elements. 1. Institutional Support. MPOs with successful freight planning programs have accepted the responsibility for making freight planning a significant program activity. High-level advo- cates provide policy direction and allocate existing staff and financial resources to expressly include freight issues as part of the transportation planning processes, including LRTPs and short-range transportation improvement programs. There are very few examples of funding resources that are expressly dedicated to conducting freight planning activities. Rather, freight-related activities must fit within existing MPO programs and responsibilities. Because this often involves the reallocation of existing staff and funding resources, institutional sup- port for conducting freight planning activities is critical. 2. Data Collection. MPOs with strong freight planning programs have developed a better understanding of the nature, location, mode, and quantity of freight movements through data collection programs. These data collection programs come in many shapes and sizes: some MPOs purchase or have access to detailed commodity flow data; others rely on publicly avail- able information; still others collect freight-specific data on their own. In all cases, though, data are important to the success of the program by helping establish a regional freight pro- file and identifying needs and deficiencies. 3. Outreach and Partnerships. MPOs with successful freight planning programs provide a rel- evant means for freight stakeholders to have input into the planning process on a continuous basis. The MPOs with the best freight planning programs are often those that have developed strong relationships with the private sector freight community in their area. Outreach to part- ner agencies, such as state or local governments, is also important in many areas. Many out- reach programs also stimulate and support training and educational activities. 4. Analysis. Providing an analytical structure and tools to effectively evaluate the potential impacts of freight investments is critical. Corridor plans, project identification, performance measures, and project evaluation criteria all represent effective analysis tools that allow poten- tial freight projects to flow into the normal MPO programming process, compete for avail- able resources, and, if successful, move into the implementation cycle. 5. Project Implementation. Project delivery and implementation are key components in a suc- cessful freight program. Successful policy and planning activities lay the ground work for project development. Undertaking projects is where many of the most successful freight pro- grams have built their credibility and created the momentum to mainstream freight into the overall transportation program. A successful freight program incorporates policy, planning, and programming in a cyclical manner as part of a region's ongoing transportation program. 6. Feedback. Freight planning, like conventional highway and transit planning, must be con- tinuous and updated on a regular basis. Once integrated into an existing metropolitan trans- portation planning program, specific freight planning activities should be evaluated to ensure that they are meeting the freight needs of the region. Regularly assessing the effectiveness of the freight planning program to refine existing freight planning activities or to develop new ones will have two important benefits. First, it will help mainstream freight planning within the MPO by incorporating freight issues into traditional planning activities and updates. Sec- ond, it will ensure that the MPO's freight planning program is responsive to the dynamic nature of the freight industry. Figure 2.2 provides a link among all three steps of this evaluation process and can be used to help you identify which specific freight planning activities you may wish to focus on in Module 3.

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2-6 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Know Your Know Your Know Your Organization Region Stakeholders Basic Intermediate/ Advanced Outreach Institutional Data Project and Analysis Implementation Feedback Support Collection Partnerships Assessment of Long-Range Data/Tool Training and Corridor Plans Funding and program Plan Element Development Education Financing effectiveness Project ID Freight Policy Regional Outreach and Project Impacts Enhancement Performance Directive Freight Profile Partnerships of existing or Measures Needs ID development Evaluation of new freight Criteria activities Figure 2.2. Integration of initial freight program evaluation processes. Those MPOs with basic programs may wish to focus on activities on the left side of the spectrum, such as developing a freight policy directive, investigating available freight training and educa- tion resources, developing a regional freight profile, or conducting a freight needs and deficien- cies analysis. These types of activities would help an MPO with a basic freight planning program better understand the freight characteristics of the region and where the freight transportation system is failing to meet the needs of users. Armed with this information, the MPO can make more informed decisions about where to and how much to invest. Those MPOs with more advanced freight planning may wish to focus on activities associated with the right side of the freight planning spectrum. These MPOs may already have developed a regional freight profile and engaged the private sector and now need to take the next step in the process by developing more comprehensive analysis techniques and tools; reinvigorating private sector outreach efforts; or funding, financing, and implementing freight improvement projects. The activities associated with the right side of the spectrum can help these MPOs take informal freight planning activities and turn them into a more comprehensive program, helping to main- stream freight within the MPO. At this point, an MPO is ready to identify the initial freight planning activities. Based on these activities and a cursory review of Module 3, staff should identify a road map of planned activi- ties. This road map could consist of developing policy language and a regional freight profile to lay the foundation of a freight program; or it could consist of identifying and evaluating specific freight projects to feed the LRP and TIP processes. It all depends on the current level of sophis- tication and the perceived regional needs. It is important that the Guidebook users realize that these initial activities represent the first activities for developing an ongoing and integrated freight program. MPO needs will vary, as will the levels of analytical sophistication. However, it is imperative that every MPO have the ulti- mate goal of establishing freight as part of its transportation program at a level that meets its regional stakeholders' (public and private) needs. Modules 3 and 4 will provide the specific guidelines and resources available to support MPO staff in this process.