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2 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas political resources to effectively integrate freight within their existing transportation policy, plan- ning, and programming activities. However, experience shows that these problems can be and have been surmounted by states and MPOs. By better understanding freight needs and issues, it is possible to design and conduct an economical and efficient freight planning process that can be integrated with conventional transportation planning. The resulting process provides many benefits to conventional trans- portation planning, road safety, the freight community, the local economy, and ultimately to the traveling public. Purpose NCHRP Report 570: "Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas" (herein after referred to as the Guidebook) has been developed to provide small- and medium-sized MPOs with the necessary resources to begin or enhance their freight transportation planning program. The Guidebook has been designed to provide MPO staff with a basic "how to" roadmap to initiate and implement a successful freight transportation planning program. It also functions as a gateway to the freight resources available through FHWA's Capacity Building program and Freight Professional Development (FPD) pro- gram, which provide access to a vast set of data, research, and best practices related to freight policy, planning, and programming activities. This Guidebook is one element in a broad approach to assist states and MPOs in incorporat- ing appropriate freight considerations into their transportation planning activities. Specifically, this Guidebook focuses on the unique needs of small- and medium-sized MPOs. Within the con- text of the Guidebook, a small MPO is defined as one representing a population less than 200,000; a medium-sized MPO is defined as one representing a population between 200,000 and 1 million; and a large MPO is defined as one representing a population exceeding 1 million. In 2004, 298 MPOs, or nearly 80 percent of the total MPOs in the U.S., were considered small- or medium-sized. Further, since 2004 there have been many new MPOs formed, all small MPOs. Throughout the Guidebook, the terms policy, planning, and programming are used repeat- edly. In order to ensure the intent of specific guidelines, the following definitions are provided for clarification: · Freight policy activities relate to the development of specific policy guidance concerning freight movements. Freight policy development is designed to help MPOs assess their roles in addressing freight issues and can help focus metropolitan freight planning efforts; · Freight planning activities relate to the process by which freight issues and concerns are addressed in the statewide or metropolitan transportation planning activities and documents, such as Long-Range Transportation Plans (LRTPs), Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs), and Unified Planning Work Programs (UPWPs); · Freight programming activities involve the ways in which MPOs commit funds to freight- specific projects identified in the regional TIP; and · Metropolitan freight planning programs stitch these various components into a comprehen- sive, continuous process. Approach The approach used to develop the Guidebook focused on several fundamental characteristics. These characteristics help ensure that the specific guidelines meet the needs of small- and medium-sized MPOs. The following summarizes these characteristics:
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Introduction 3 · Provide flexibility. During the development of the Guidebook, it became clear that there is no one activity or set of activities that will meet the unique freight needs of all small- or medium-sized MPOs. Each region has its own needs and priorities. The Guidebook has been developed to function as a flexible tool that allows users to pick and choose and modify the guidelines to best fit their needs. · Rely on integration. One of the most common questions asked regarding the development of a freight planning program is "where do you get the resources." In an ideal world, specific funding programs would be available to hire staff and conduct freight-related activities. How- ever, it is critical that new freight programs not rely on new funding sources or additional staff, and MPOs are encouraged to find ways to work to integrate freight into their existing trans- portation programs. Reallocation of staff and funding is the best way to make sure the freight element of the program becomes an active component in the overall transportation program. · Use best practices effectively. Freight transportation is still a relatively new discipline for many MPO staff. As such, preferred or best practices have not been developed for all aspects of freight policy, planning, and programming activities. Therefore, guidelines presented in this Guidebook maximize, but are not limited by, available best practices. Use of this Guidebook should provide small- and medium-sized MPOs with the ability to ini- tiate or enhance a freight transportation planning program that compliments their existing activ- ities by providing a more balanced and integrated transportation system that meets the needs of all stakeholders.