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3-32 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Developing Freight Project Evaluation Criteria Overview Project evaluation criteria dramatically impact the direction and content of an MPO's trans- portation program. They ultimately are responsible for the selection and prioritization of spe- cific improvement projects with both LRTPs and TIPs. As a result, for freight to become an integrated component in a region's transportation program, it must be recognized and acknowl- edged through the project evaluation criteria. The most effective mechanism for ensuring that freight considerations are part of the process is to modify and enhance the existing processes used by MPOs to evaluate and rank transportation improvement projects. The specific categories used by MPOs vary; however, they typically address the following categories: Safety and security, Mobility and system performance, Economic development and land use, Growth management, Intermodal and multimodalism, Environmental impact, and Quality of life. Although these categories address the overall project impacts on a region, it is also important that the evaluation criteria identify impacts on or value to key regional industries. In addition to their impacts on these categories, freight projects should also be driven by their ability to meet the needs of regional freight operators. Examples include assessing the impact or value to businesses located in an industrial park of a new Interstate interchange that would provide direct access to the highway or evaluating the benefits to industry of improved travel time, reduced truck traffic, or improved reliability. These and other types of freight impacts should be identified and addressed by project evaluation criteria. Most MPOs have at least two important processes; one to support development of their LRP, and another to support development of their TIP. Most MPOs evaluate their projects within cat- egories, such as by mode (bike/pedestrian, roadway, transit, and freight) or by impact category (mobility, safety, economic development). The Guidebook encourages users to work within the confines of their established program processes to identify opportunities for integrating freight- specific project considerations. Basic versus Advanced Approach The development of freight project evaluation criteria can be accomplished through a variety of activities. The basic approach focuses on simple modifications to the existing project evalua- tion criteria to better reflect or accommodate freight projects. The objective of this approach is to ensure that freight projects are included in the evaluation process by inserting or changing language to the existing process. The advanced approach consists of very similar steps, except it calls for the development and integration of freight-specific project evaluation criteria. Instead of modifying existing language to recognize freight, new language will be developed to specifi- cally address freight projects, as well as ensure that transportation projects in general recognize the operational and design requirements of freight movements. Key Activities Development of freight project evaluation criteria represents a critical step in the program- ming process. Once the projects have been identified there needs to be a mechanism in place to

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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-33 rank and prioritize them. Most likely, these projects will be competing among themselves, as well as with nonfreight projects. An MPO must make a decision as to how these processes should be accomplished. Within the realm of freight-specific projects, a variety of factors can be measured, including improvements in mobility, reduction in congestion, improved access, economic impacts, and safety and security enhancements. Many of these also will translate into the over- all project evaluation process; however, they will require a modified set of data. The following approaches focus on the key steps required to undertake this activity. They include activities like language modifications (which will incorporate freight-specific impacts into existing evaluations) and the development of specific freight measures (which will require new data and analyses). Basic Approach Activity Developing Freight Project Evaluation Criteria--Basic Activity Type Planning and Programming Level of Effort Moderate Technical Complexity Moderate Data/Analytical Tool Needs Moderate. Requires identification and collection of new data require- ments; refinement to existing evaluation criteria. Outreach/Partnership Needs Low. Requires limited outreach to private partners to verify evaluation criteria. Training/Education Needs Moderate. Requires staff to apply freight knowledge to short- and LRP development activities; should explore resources and training available from FHWA and NHI. http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/FPD/index.asp Related Activities Freight Project Identification, LRP Freight Element, TIP Development. Key activity: Integrate freight considerations into established evaluation criteria processes. Step 1. Review and evaluate existing transportation evaluation criteria. MPOs have been evaluating the impacts of potential projects for years. The most fundamental approach available for evaluating freight projects is to build on or modify these processes. The first step for MPO staff is to review these processes and evaluate the degree to which they already may incorporate freight considerations. Step 2. Identify potential language modifications to better integrate or account for freight projects. Based on the review of existing evaluation processes, MPO staff should identify specific language modifications. For example, criteria that look at annual average daily traffic (AADT) could be expanded to include reference to annual average daily truck traffic (AADTT). Step 3. Identify new data requirements to evaluate freight projects. Once the language modifications have been developed, it is critical that the necessary data be collected to support the changes. In the Step 2 example, if AADT is expanded to include AADTT, vehicle classifica- tions will be required. Step 4. Refine evaluation process. The recommended language changes and new data requirements should be integrated into the MPO's procedures. This will likely require close coor- dination and cooperation with the staff responsible for overall project evaluation. Staff members should be included in all these steps to help build consensus early on in this activity. Step 5. Implement process as part of next update. Steps 1 through 4 should provide staff with a modified, freight sensitive project evaluation process. Implementation should occur as part of the next regularly scheduled update.

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3-34 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Advanced Approach Activity Developing Freight Project Evaluation Criteria--Advanced Activity Type Planning and Programming Level of Effort High Technical Complexity High Data/Analytical Tool Needs High. Requires identification and collection of new data requirements; refinement to existing and development of new evaluation criteria. Outreach/Partnership Needs Low. Requires limited outreach to private partners to verify evaluation criteria. Training/Education Needs High. Requires staff to apply freight knowledge to short- and LRP devel- opment activities; should explore resources and training available from FHWA and NHI. http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/FPD/index.asp Related Activities Freight Project Identification, LRP Freight Element, TIP Development. Key activity: Develop freight-specific project evaluation criteria and integrate them into established processes. Step 1. Review and evaluate existing transportation evaluation criteria. MPO staff should be familiar with the existing evaluation criteria and the associated process before embarking on the development of a new set of criteria. This is critical, because ultimately integration, coordi- nation, and cooperation will be necessary to achieve a balanced approach to project evaluation activities. Step 2. Review available freight data, analyses, and projects provided by other activities. To develop a comprehensive set of freight project evaluation criteria, it is critical that staff under- stand the system, its operation, the available data, and the types of projects being considered. The supply chain analyses completed as part of the regional freight profile should provide valuable input and insights into the priorities of the private partners. Step 3. Develop stand alone freight-specific evaluation criteria. Based on the material iden- tified and reviewed in Step 2, specific criteria should be developed. These criteria should address a full range of freight and infrastructure operations across all modes. Some of these will reflect existing measures from the freight perspective, while others will represent new criteria. These criteria should address (1) the direct impacts on private partner operations and (2) overall impacts on the region. Step 4. Identify new data requirements to evaluate freight projects. It is important to iden- tify criteria for which data are or can be available. As the criteria are being developed in Step 3, staff should be defining the data requirements necessary to effectively implement them. Step 5. Integrate freight evaluation criteria in the transportation project evaluation process. As with other transportation elements, freight criteria should be incorporated into the overall evaluation process. This could consist of a new freight component to the established process, or it could involve true integration. Staff should look to its specific programs for guidance on this decision. Step 6. Implement process as part of next update. Steps 1 through 5 should provide staff with a modified, freight sensitive project evaluation process. Implementation should occur as part of the next regularly scheduled update.

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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-35 Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments (TMACOG)--Developing Freight Project Evaluation Criteria TMACOG has developed a project solicitation and ranking process that begins to integrate freight into the project evaluation process by addressing the overall transportation program. As part of its TIP, TMACOG staff evaluates projects based on a variety of factors. These factors are primarily inclusive of freight project char- acteristics and are highlighted in three areas: economic development, multimodal, and system use and performance. The following table presents the specific elements and allocated points. TMACOG Project Solicitation and Ranking Process TIP Prioritization Factors Freight-Related Elements Measured Points Economic Projects with 10 or more jobs Localized 2 Development (includes retail and service) Multiple Jurisdictions 4 (10%) Regional Impacts 6 Projects with 10 or more jobs Localized 6 (no retail and service) Multiple Jurisdictions 8 Regional Impacts 10 Quality of Life NA NA NA (10%) Multimodal Projects which provide access Regional Scale 10 (15%) to multimodal terminals: Major Scale 5 Minor Scale 3 Local NA NA NA Commitment (15%) System Use and Percent Truck Traffic <5% 0 Performance (For projects on a truck impact 5 to 10% 1 (50%) route add 2 points. Maximum 10 to 15% 2 number of points for this item 15 to 20% 3 is 5) 20 to 25% 4 >25% 5 Source: Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), 20062009, March 2005, Public Review Draft, Prepared by Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. NA = Not applicable. Only factors that specifically addressed freight interests were called out in this example. Common Issues and Potential Solutions There are several common issues or challenges that MPOs will face in the development of freight project evaluation criteria. These challenges consist of data limitations, lack of specific freight projects to evaluate, the ability to evaluate impacts and benefits across modes, and local