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3-36 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas political resistance to freight and goods movement initiatives. The following summarizes the key challenges and offers potential solutions: Common Issue Potential Solution Lack of freight projects. Many MPOs have not Allow the private sector freight community to submit identified and developed freight-specific projects. needs and projects for consideration. The private Freight needs are typically addressed directly or sector freight community can be an important source indirectly as part of the overall transportation of information related to needs and deficiencies and program. Without a process in place to identify potential freight improvement projects, because they and develop freight projects, it is not feasible to are the primary users of the system and understand its develop freight evaluation criteria. strengths and limitations. In some MPOs, the private sector freight community is allowed to submit projects directly for consideration. The private sector also can be an important resource when developing freight- specific evaluation criteria. Limitations of freight data. The availability of Investigate freight data sources. There are a number freight data continues to be a major factor for of publicly available freight data sources and data MPO planning staff when conducting freight techniques that can be useful in developing freight planning activities. As a result, the creation of evaluation criteria. State DOTs, FHWA, and other freight evaluation criteria is restricted to those agencies are potential sources of freight data. See the criteria for which data are available. Data and Analytical Tools section of this module for more guidance. In addition, Module 5 includes a list of freight data resources. Local political will. Many regions have a strong Develop champions and advocates for freight and anti-freight political environment. This sentiment freight planning. Few local decision-makers and often restricts the ability of technical staff within general public members understand the link between MPOs to expand programs to include freight. efficient freight movements and quality of life. Artic- ulating the positive benefits of freight can help create advocacy for freight planning. Developing Freight Performance Measures Overview Performance measures have become an increasingly important component of transportation planning and programming activities. Investment decisions are being driven more and more by anticipated and proven results. This change forces agencies to invest in projects and programs that can be shown to benefit their impacted communities. Performance measures are used to evaluate both proposed projects and implemented program elements. The results provide addi- tional data and tools for ongoing program expansion and enhancements. Freight performance measures can serve various purposes in the freight planning process. It is beneficial to be able to use freight performance measures to evaluate how future conditions will affect system performance and how planned projects contribute to meeting regional goals and objectives. This type of evaluation is also especially useful for conducting alternatives evaluations in corridor studies. Performance measures that are tracked on a regular basis can provide early warning signs of problems that need to be addressed in planning for the future and help focus a freight planning program. Performance measures can be used to evaluate the relative benefits of different LRP options or they can be adapted for selection of freight projects for inclusion in a TIP. Basic versus Advanced Approach Approaches to developing and maintaining freight performance measure systems can be dis- tinguished based on the amount of data collection required and whether or not they involve fore- casting the measures for alternate future conditions. Ideally, MPOs will choose performance measures that are directly related to the goals and objectives of their freight program. However,
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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-37 it may be difficult to identify sources of data that can be used to evaluate conditions related to all goals and objectives. To simplify the process and application, some MPOs simply identify easy to track indicator metrics that tell them something basic about what is happening in the freight system, for example, an indicator of growth or decline in traffic volumes, changes in the per- centage of trucks on high-volume facilities, or spreading of peak periods (which may reduce the amount of off-peak time in which trucks can operate). A more advanced approach incorporates travel demand model outputs. Some freight per- formance measures come directly from travel demand models. As a result, if freight traffic can be distinguished in these models, they can be used to forecast freight performance. Hours of recurrent delay for trucks (or on key truck routes), LOS, change in truck percent on key corri- dors, travel time between major freight origins and destinations are all examples of freight per- formance measures that can be estimated using a travel demand model that includes truck trip tables. This concept has been extended in the San Joaquin Valley Truck Model and the Freight Action STrategy (FAST) for Everett-Seattle-Tacoma Truck modeling tool using the results of a travel demand model with some readily available sketch planning tools. Key Activities For performance measures to be useful, they need to relate to specific goals and objectives, whether these are goals and objectives of an overall freight program or the purpose and need statement in a corridor study or plan. To the extent that these are general goals and objectives that are similar to those established for passenger transportation (e.g., mobility, safety, environ- mental health, etc.), the metrics may be the same as they are for passenger transportation but focused on the freight elements of the system. For example, performance measures for freight mobility may be hours of delay for trucks or on key truck routes; performance measures for freight safety may be accidents at rail grade crossings or accidents involving trucks. Some aspects of performance may be important to meet regional goals and objectives but either the data are not available to measure them or there are no useful metrics. Reliability is an aspect of system performance that freight stakeholders often cite as critical but it is an elusive aspect of per- formance from a measurement perspective. In some cases, as in Brownsville, TX, MPOs may choose to focus on one or two very simple metrics (e.g., amount of truck traffic moving through a border crossing or through the gates of a port or intermodal facility) as the primary indicator. If baseline con- ditions are established and system performance is viewed as satisfactory by stakeholders under these conditions, useful baseline measures may be established with which to compare future performance. Basic Approach Activity · Developing Freight Performance Measures--Basic (without Forecasting) Activity Type · Planning and Programming Level of Effort · Moderate Technical Complexity · Low to Moderate Data/Analytical Tool Needs · Moderate. Relies on data collected to support measures such as truck/ freight volumes on key facilities, travel times between major freight origin- destination points, number of accidents involving freight vehicles, etc. Outreach/Partnership Needs · Moderate. Requires outreach to private partners to solicit feedback on proposed freight performance measures. Training/Education Needs · Moderate. Requires staff to apply freight knowledge of multiple data intensive 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 LRP Element, Data and Analysis Tools, Freight Project Evaluation Criteria.
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3-38 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Key Activity: Work with stakeholders to identify useful metrics related to goals and objec- tives, identify available data, and conduct evaluation. Step 1. Identify a priority or critical freight network, including all components. This will help focus the performance measurement on those aspects of the system that are of most con- cern to users. This information should be available through the regional freight profile. Step 2. Determine what types of data are available for these system elements from system operators. This may include data on traffic volumes, average speeds and travel times, accidents, and so forth. Note that some of the data may only be available through private system operators. This information also should be available through the regional freight profile. Step 3. Prepare an initial list of potential indicators for key goals and objectives of the freight program and match these with available data. Always make sure that the performance measures are related to key goals and objectives and the data are available. Step 4. Review the performance measures with stakeholders (preferably an ongoing FAC and agency staff). For any performance measures for which readily available measures do not exist, determine with freight stakeholders the potential for successfully collecting new data. Step 5. Conduct performance evaluations based on defined measures and data. Using the defined performance measures and available data, evaluate the freight transportation system. Advanced Approach Activity · Developing Freight Performance Measures--Advanced (with Forecasting) Activity Type · Planning and Programming Level of Effort · High Technical Complexity · High Data/Analytical Tool Needs · High. Requires evaluation of freight modeling tools with all system elements. Outreach/Partnership Needs · Moderate. Requires outreach to private partners to solicit feedback on proposed freight performance measures. Training/Education Needs · High. Requires staff to apply freight knowledge of multiple data intensive activities, including forecasting; 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 LRP Element, Data and Analysis Tools, Freight Project Evaluation Criteria. Key Activity: Develop forecasting tools that evaluate how performance measures change with changes in the system characteristics. Step 1. Identify a priority or critical freight network, including all components. This will help focus the performance measurement on those aspects of the system that are of most con- cern to users. This information should be available through the regional freight profile. Step 2. Determine what types of data are available for these system elements from system operators. This may include data on traffic volumes, average speeds and travel times, accidents, and so forth. Note that some of the data may only be available through private system operators. This information should be available through the regional freight profile. Step 3. Identify and review available travel demand models and data. Regional travel demand models provide roadway system data in the form of both input and output files. These data, along with the modeling process, can be used to evaluate the base and future performance of the roadway system. They can also address access to key load centers.
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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-39 Step 4. Prepare an initial list of potential indicators for key goals and objectives of the freight program and match these with available data. Based on a review of the available trans- portation system and model data, identify and document the potential freight performance measures. Always make sure that the performance measures are related to key goals and objec- tives and that data are available. Step 5. Review the performance measures with stakeholders (preferably an ongoing FAC and agency staff). Soliciting input from the impacted stakeholders is an important step. This activity validates the list based on the expertise of the system users. For any performance mea- sures for which available measures are not available, determine with freight stakeholders the potential for successfully collecting new data. Step 6. Conduct performance evaluations of base and future alternatives based on defined measures and data. Using the defined performance measures, available data, and models, MPO staff should evaluate the freight transportation system. This will require the programming of improve- ment projects into the travel demand model to measure the anticipated changes in performance. East-West Gateway Coordinating Council (EWGCC)--Developing Freight Performance Measures EWGCC provides an example of an MPO that has developed effective performance measures for freight. EWGCC has developed performance indicators specific to the freight system in St. Louis that coincided with important goals shared by the MPO's FAC. In addition, the number of indicators was manageable in size and could be measured with available or easily obtainable data. The refined list of indicators was divided into five summary categories, and the regional freight plan recommended their use in a regional TIP. The following is the list of indicators as presented in that draft 1998 regional freight plan. Connectivity/Congestion--Average speed on the St. Louis Region's roadway network and truck counts at several key locations. Safety--Number of at-grade railroad crossings, number of overpasses that have vertical clearance restrictions, number of weight-restricted bridges or overpasses, intersections with inadequate turning radii for 53 trailers, high-accident loca- tions, ramp geometry where sight distance to poor or sharp turns is required, and pavement life. Reliability--LOS below C. Intermodal--Tons of air freight departing, tons of cargo transported through the port, and number of intermodal lifts that occur yearly at the local intermodal facilities. Economic/Environmental--Value of freight moved from, to, and within the region, number of people employed in five major economic sectors in the region (e.g., trans- port and manufacturing), amount of warehouse space available in the region and current occupancy rate of the warehouse space, and number of projects and dollars expended. These performance measures represent a balance between the need for meaning- ful indicators that truly inform the process for programming improvements and the need for indicators that are easily measurable.