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3-28 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Common Issue Potential Solution Lack of freight expertise. Although MPOs go Allow the private sector freight community to submit through a similar process with every plan and needs and projects for consideration. The private program update to develop the LRP and TIP, sector freight community can be an important source many may be challenged by the identification of information related to needs and deficiencies and of transportation projects from the freight potential freight improvement projects, because they perspective. This could especially be true for are the primary users of the system and understand nonroadway projects. its strengths and limitations. In the case of the Polk TPO, the private sector freight community was allowed to submit projects directly or through the EDC, for consideration. This resulted in the identification and eventual programming of a significant freight improve- ment project that normally would not have been completed. MPOs that have difficulty identifying potential freight improvements may wish to consider such a strategy. Lack of freight data. This activity relies heavily Develop a regional freight profile. The completion of on an established freight profile and a needs a regional profile can provide an MPO with a better and deficiencies statement, which provide a understanding of the freight system in a region. The variety of data sources. Freight data have data and information collection activities conducted historically been lacking in many regions and as part of a regional freight profile development can will continue to be until staff has integrated it directly feed into the identification of needs and into the ongoing data collection and manage- deficiencies. ment program. Dependence on other activities. Freight-specific Designate a Freight POC. A freight technical lead projects are identified and developed from the should be designated within the MPO. This POC can regional freight profile, the needs and deficiencies act as the liaison between the MPO's various trans- statement, and public outreach activities. Without portation initiatives and between the MPO and other these activities and resources, the process of iden- agencies and stakeholders, ensuring that freight issues tifying projects is constrained. are addressed within multiple MPO activities. Addressing Freight in Corridor Plans and Studies Overview Corridor plans and studies are one of the key activities undertaken by MPOs and state DOTs. These initiatives drive investment decisions that improve and enhance regional mobility. A region's economic competitiveness is directly related to freight mobility. Therefore, it is critical that freight considerations be included in the analyses. These types of initiatives typically look at a variety of alternatives that evaluate the available options, such as congestion management strategies, use of ITS, and capital improvements. Historically, studies of this type have focused on roadway corridors. There are different types of corridor projects. For example, the I-95 Cor- ridor Coalition, which runs from Maine to Florida, represents a multistate initiative to improve operations. Other, more localized corridors better reflect the type of projects with which an MPO would become involved. These often represent major corridors serving an urbanized area. The Atlantic Commerce Corridor in southeast Florida is an example of a corridor study designed specifically to look at freight transportation needs across a variety of modes. This proj- ect involved three MPOs, two DOT district offices, and several private partners representing industry concerns. The study identified more than 6 billion dollars worth of project needs affect- ing a variety of modes and facilities, including three deep water seaports, three international air- ports, two freight railroads, and the roadway system. Completion of this resulted in the designation of the I-95 corridor along the entire eastern coast of Florida as a corridor of national significance, opening the door to a wider range of funding and investment opportunities.
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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-29 Many other regions have conducted freight corridor studies, as well. Southern California, for instance, has conducted several studies of how dedicated truck lanes along key roadway corri- dors could reduce congestion and improve mobility for trucks serving key freight generators, such as the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as reduce truck and auto conflicts in the region. Other truck-lane feasibility studies have been conducted along key freight corridors in the area. While most small- and medium-sized MPOs will not undertake such comprehensive truck-lane studies, many already conduct or are involved in significant corridor studies. It is important to provide guidance on how to address freight issues within these efforts. The approach recommended for small- and medium-sized MPOs focuses on expanding tra- ditional corridor studies to better reflect the needs of freight movements. This includes truck needs to move within a corridor and on intermodal connectors that provide access to major load generators, such as seaports, rail intermodal yards, air cargo operations, and key industrial areas. Basic versus Advanced Approach There are a variety of ways to integrate freight into corridor studies and plans. In part, how basic or advanced these activities are depends on the type of project. The basic approach focuses on integrating freight into existing transportation projects. This includes defining freight as one of the basic considerations to be included in the alternatives analysis. For example, at the basic level, a roadway corridor study can be enhanced to include private industry in the outreach and data collection to document the needs of industry. The advanced approach expands on the basic approach by more formally integrating freight into the study or plan. It includes the collection and analysis of freight-specific data as part of the alternatives analysis, including the development of freight-specific alternatives, as appropriate. For example, freight-specific alternatives can be developed to specifically address interchanges, access points, capacity, roadway geometrics, and other bottlenecks from the perspective of truck operations. In addition, it could include the incorporation of multiple modes. For example, if there is a rail corridor or other modal linkages within close proximity, the analysis could be expanded to include intermodal connection needs as well as modal diversion considerations. Key Activities Incorporating freight into corridor plan or study analyses is important to the overall devel- opment of a successful freight transportation program. Many MPOs and state DOTs conduct corridor studies to address regional mobility issues. These typically represent significant invest- ments in the transportation system--investments that benefit all types of movements (intra- regional, interregional, and through trips). The key activities suggested to successfully integrate freight needs focus on incorporating freight as one of many considerations evaluated as part of the overall project. This can be accomplished by integrating freight-specific elements into exist- ing alternatives or by promoting an alternative that looks specifically at improvements that would improve freight operations. The following activities address these approaches. Basic Approach Activity · Addressing Freight in Corridor Plans and Studies--Basic Activity Type · Planning Level of Effort · Low Technical Complexity · Low Data/Analytical Tool Needs · Low. Requires limited data collection and outreach to private partners through existing committees to provide basic operational information and needs identification.
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3-30 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Outreach/Partnership Needs · Low. Requires inclusion of private partners in general outreach activities. Existing advisory committees can provide valuable input. Training/Education Needs · Low. Requires staff to apply basic freight knowledge to existing corridor projects; should explore resources available from FHWA. · http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/FPD/index.asp Related Activities · Regional Freight Profile, Freight Needs and Deficiencies, Freight Project Identification. Key Activity: Integrate freight considerations into the corridor study or plan process. Step 1. Define freight as one of the corridor evaluation areas within the project scope. Early in the process as part of the project scope, regional freight mobility needs should be called out as one of the objectives. This will ensure that the process incorporates freight from inception. Step 2. Identify and work with private sector representatives to document key issues. As part of the analysis, outreach should be conducted to build public support for the selected alter- native. Freight stakeholders should be included in this process. Existing advisory committees should be used, if available. Step 3. Integrate freight issues into the potential project solutions. Although the basic approach does not call for the creation of freight-specific alternatives, it does support the inclusion of freight as one of the evaluation criteria in determining the best alternative for the corridor. Advanced Approach Activity · Addressing Freight in Corridor Plans and Studies--Advanced Activity Type · Planning Level of Effort · High Technical Complexity · High Data/Analytical Tool Needs · High. Requires collection of freight-specific data to support specific oper- ational analyses and travel demand model evaluations; conduct significant outreach with impacted private partners through interviews, focus groups, general public, and formation of a freight technical advisory committee. Outreach/Partnership Needs · High. Requires involvement of private partners in all the planned out- reach activities; conduct of interviews and focus groups; and engagement of the freight technical advisory committee. Training/Education Needs · Moderate. Requires staff to apply knowledge of freight data to existing corridor projects in coordination with significant outreach activities; should explore resources and training available from FHWA and NHI. · http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/FPD/index.asp Related Activities · Regional Freight Profile, Freight Needs and Deficiencies, Freight Project Identification. Key activity: Develop freight-specific alternatives within a corridor study or plan. Step 1. Define freight as one of the corridor evaluation areas. As the scope is being devel- oped for the corridor study or plan, it is critical that freight be highlighted as one of the key fac- tors in the creation and evaluation of alternatives. Based on the corridor, this step should include freight-specific alternative(s), as appropriate. Step 2. Identify and work with private sector representatives to document key issues and alternative characteristics. As part of the analysis, outreach will be conducted to build public support for the selected alternative. Freight stakeholders should be included in this process to provide an opportunity for system users to contribute to potential solutions.
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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-31 Step 3. Collect and evaluate freight-specific data. Data drive the planning process. To inte- grate freight considerations into a corridor study, it is necessary to have adequate data. Freight data should be collected to support operational analyses specific to the corridor's characteristics and study scope. Truck counts are an example of freight-specific data required for corridor stud- ies. In addition, nearby freight load centers, such as an intermodal terminal, port facility, or air- port would contribute significantly to the corridor's operation and staff should work to identify data sources describing the operations of these kinds of facilities. Step 4. Develop freight-specific improvement components or alternatives. Based on an evaluation of operational conditions, specific improvement options should be developed that integrate with and promote overall corridor efficiency. Key access points (intermodal connec- tors) and truck only lanes are a few options to consider. Step 5. Conduct outreach to private stakeholders to validate potential improvement options. Once staff has developed a list of specific improvement options, private stakeholders should validate them. This can be accomplished through interviews, focus groups, or both. The intent is to build support for the corridor study and provide an opportunity for refinements to existing concepts and the identification of additional concepts Step 6. Integrate freight into the corridor evaluation process. The freight-specific alterna- tives and specific improvements should be part of the overall evaluation of alternatives. These steps provide the base data and development of improvements necessary to support this activity. Common Issues and Potential Solutions For many MPOs and state DOTs, the ability to integrate freight into corridor planning holds the same challenges associated with overall freight policy, planning, and programming activities. Many MPO staff members do not have training in freight and goods movement issues. In addition, they often lack necessary data to easily integrate freight considerations into existing processes. The following summarizes the key challenges and offers potential solutions. Common Issue Potential Solution Lack of freight expertise. Many of the activities Investigate training and education opportunities. defined represent a new area of planning for MPO There are a number of training and education oppor- staff. The ability of staff to take advantage of tunities available to MPO staff to enhance under- training opportunities and personal initiative to standing of freight, its common issues and concerns, learn a new discipline are necessary for the freight and how it can be more effectively integrated within a program to be successful. transportation planning process. Lack of freight data. Aside from standard vehicle Investigate freight data sources. There are a number classification counts, many MPOs do not have of publicly available freight data sources and data access to freight-specific data to support corridor techniques that can be useful to metropolitan freight studies. In addition, some types of freight data planning efforts. See the Data and Analytical Tools differ from traditional transportation data, section of this module for more guidance. In addition, making integration more difficult. Module 5 includes a list of freight data resources. Lack of project champion and political oppo- Develop champions and advocates for freight and sition. Corridor improvement projects often freight planning. Few local decision-makers and address significant transportation investments general public members understand the link between to better manage regional mobility for all trans- efficient freight movements and quality of life. Artic- portation system users. Building support for a ulating the positive benefits of freight can help create freight-specific enhancement is often limited advocacy for freight planning. due to competing agendas. In addition, many leaders and their constituents are not well versed in the benefits of freight transportation.