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OCR for page 13
MODULE 3 Integrating Freight into MPO Activities This Guidebook has introduced the importance of freight policy, planning, and programming activities and walked users through a self-assessment to establish existing needs and preliminary freight planning program direction. Module 3 helps users develop or enhance an effective freight planning program by defining specific guidelines to carry out freight program development activities. The most significant challenge for users will be to select the appropriate mix of freight planning activities to meet their initial objectives. Many of the freight planning activities defined in this module are closely integrated and should be combined to effectively develop an integrated freight planning program. For example, a regional freight profile supports the identification of freight needs and deficiencies, which feeds information and data into the freight element of a long-range plan (LRP). Very few of these freight planning activities exist in a vacuum, so it is critical that users understand how these specific activities fit within the context of their existing transportation plan- ning program. As with other disciplines, freight planning activities should ultimately feed into and integrate with the overall local or regional transportation program. In fact, the success of freight policy, plan- ning, and programming activities is directly linked to the ability to successfully integrate all of the activities defined in the Guidebook into the transportation program. For example, pedestrian, bike, transit, and roadway needs are planned, prioritized, and funded within a metropolitan planning organization's (MPO) long-range transportation planning and programming process. For freight issues to be similarly mainstreamed within a metropolitan transportation planning process, freight must become part of the following three areas: 1. Long-Range Planning. Long-range planning includes development and maintenance of LRPs, data collection and analysis programs, corridor plans and analyses, and stand alone research and planning initiatives. Integrating freight into these activities is a fundamental first step for an MPO because it includes many of the initiatives that practitioners begin with, such as development of a freight study or any of the specific technical elements that support an overall study (e.g., truck volume maps, freight system map, needs identification, outreach, land use, modeling). Most of the activities can be undertaken at low or high cost/efforts. 2. Transportation Improvement Programming. Transportation improvement programming is a more specific group of activities. Every 1 to 2 years, the proposed improvement projects, plans, studies, and other activities expected to occur over the next 3 to 5 years are taken from the LRP and entered into the programming process, which culminates in the development of a TIP and statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). TIPs and STIPs are fiscally constrained, so each project identified must include a cost estimate and an anticipated fund- ing source. To aid in the development of these estimates, many potential projects undergo an initial assessment not only of their scope, but also of their anticipated environmental impacts. 3-1