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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-59 Common Issues and Potential Solutions There are several key challenges that impact the development of a successful training and educa- tion program. These challenges include availability of funding, availability of staff, and availability of training opportunities. The following summarizes the key challenges and offers potential solutions: Common Issue Potential Solution Funding. The development and implementation Investigate low-cost training opportunities. of a comprehensive training and education FHWA's Talking Freight seminar series is conducted program can be costly. via conference call and the Internet and therefore is a low-cost option. The peer-to-peer exchange program can also be a low-cost alternative. In addition, FHWA often "sponsors" a select number of NHI courses each year at little or no cost to participating agencies. MPO staff should work with state DOT and FHWA partners to investigate these and other low-cost training opportunities. Staff availability. Many MPOs have staff members Promote the importance of freight to build manage- operating in an environment where they have ment support. Freight is an up and coming field that multiple responsibilities. For example, freight will only receive more attention in the coming years. activities often represent additional work for a Staff should develop a brief overview that describes the staff member as opposed to a reassignment to freight system, its impact on the region, and the types work exclusively in the area of freight. of encouragement and training resources available. Availability of training opportunities. Although Communicate need for training to state and federal freight training opportunities do exist, they are partners. Staff should work with state and federal limited. This limits the type of training available, partners to promote the need for training. This type as well as the ability to schedule training courses of support and outreach will stress the need for train- in a timely manner. ing and will encourage the expansion of existing courses and the development of new courses. Outreach and Partnerships Overview MPOs with successful freight planning programs typically cite the active participation of freight stakeholders as a key success factor. Participating firms and individuals serve as resources through- out the transportation planning process, with activities that range from definition and review of freight policies to identification of a regional freight profile, to project prioritization and imple- mentation. Such assistance and support are critical to ensure that the region's freight needs are correctly defined and that freight projects receive an appropriate level of priority. Although outreach activities cannot and should not serve as the primary tools for analyzing existing conditions and developing the freight transportation program, they can be used effectively to build staff expertise in freight, logistics, and supply and distribution patterns, and in other areas. Outreach activities can also be used to build political and community support for a freight planning program. Having private sector participation assists MPOs in a number of ways, such as Facilitating private sector acceptance of transportation program elements, Promoting the strategic role of freight to the region's economic competitiveness, Improving industry support of and cooperation with freight data collection efforts, Leading efforts for creating public-private freight partnerships, and Rallying political support for freight-related projects. Identifying target firms and individuals can actually be somewhat easier with small- and medium-sized MPOs because the pool of target candidates tends to be smaller and better known.

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3-60 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Logical starting points are area chambers of commerce, traffic clubs, and logistics organizations. Typically, the leaders within these organizations are familiar with the members of the freight community and may be in a position to suggest candidates. Membership in freight committees is encouraged to be on an appointment basis, in coordination with the local elected bodies (e.g., via MPO staff nomination to appropriate elected officials such as mayor[s], county com- missioners, etc.). Appointments can legitimize the acceptance of this committee as a formal com- ponent of the transportation program. Basic versus Advanced Approach The major distinguishing characteristics between preparing a basic versus an advanced out- reach and partnership program relates to the scope and continuity of efforts. Basic outreach and partnering simply relates to engaging a smaller community of freight stakeholders and engaging these stakeholders less frequently. Conversely, advanced outreach involves engaging more freight stakeholders on an ongoing basis. Basic outreach and partnering is typical of small MPOs, MPOs in regions dominated by sin- gle, mature industries, or MPOs with fewer transportation modes and options. Such regions typ- ically have smaller or less complex freight networks, with reduced needs for ongoing interaction with freight stakeholders. However, this does not mean that MPOs in such areas can ignore freight stakeholders or the need to maintain regular interaction. Such communication can be key in rec- ognizing changing economic and logistical conditions. Such outreach efforts also encourage freight industry support and cooperation with other planning and project prioritization efforts. Larger MPOs or MPOs in areas with more complex and dynamic conditions tend to expend more energy engaging freight partners on an ongoing basis, emulating the approaches used and proven valuable by large MPOs. A typical advanced approach is to create a committee of freight stakeholders that meets regularly (usually monthly, quarterly or semiannually), consisting of representatives from major shippers, distributors, and modal carriers in the region. This com- mittee reviews area freight needs and identifies current or potential projects that could address these needs. MPO personnel typically serve as staff to such committees, arranging meetings, coordinating the agenda, and providing information and reports as needed to keep the com- mittee informed of relevant projects. Key Activities The development of effective outreach and partnership activities is a critical component in an MPO's transportation planning program. These activities provide system users and impacted communities with the ability to identify their issues and participate in the development of system improvements. Various options exist to engage freight stakeholders. Activities can be designed to address specific issues or projects, or they can be more open ended. For example, a major corridor analysis would focus outreach to those stakeholders operating in the corridor/ subregion and would ascertain potential impacts on specific improvement alternatives. A more general approach could include regionwide outreach to stakeholders to support the development of a regional freight profile and the identification of systemwide constraints or bottlenecks. This section provides basic and advanced approaches for outreach and partnership development activities. The types of activities include surveys, interviews, focus groups, advisory committees, and freight appointments to existing boards and committees. The specifics of the activities should be customized to meet the needs of the specific freight program direction. Outreach and partnership activities support all aspects of policy, planning, and programming and will need to be developed in a way that supports the activities selected by an MPO.

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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-61 The success of outreach activities with the private sector freight industry is impacted by several factors: Profitability and economic competitiveness. The most basic motivator for private sector firms is economic; these entities exist to produce profits for investors. While it is also in the long- term interest of firms to be good corporate citizens, economic considerations provide the strongest link between corporate activities with the community and, therefore, serve as the strongest predictor of continued and engaged stakeholder interest. Partnerships with local industry leaders and organizations. Local traffic organizations and chambers of commerce can often assist by suggesting firms and individuals with appropriate skills and interests to participate in freight planning activities and potentially act as freight champions. Such outreach to the local chambers, traffic clubs, and logistics organizations is a basic element in stakeholder outreach efforts. Private sector impacts. Because freight-focused firms are logistically sensitive, freight projects will seldom impact all stakeholders equally. As such, they carry the potential for changing the competitive dynamics of firms. This makes the project selection process politically sensitive to claims of favoritism. Basic Approach Activity Outreach and Partnerships--Basic Activity Type Policy, Planning, and Programming Level of Effort Moderate Technical Complexity Low Data/Analytical Tool Needs Moderate. May require data collection efforts. Outreach/Partnership Needs N/A Training/Education Needs Low. Requires staff to apply basic freight knowledge, particularly relating to stakeholder outreach activities; should explore resources available from FHWA. http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/FPD/index.asp Related Activities Supports all activities. Key activity: Identify and develop freight outreach program. Step 1. Identify key planned freight program elements. Before an outreach plan can be developed, it is important to understand the basic direction of the program. Initial policy and profile work versus alternatives analyses and program implementation require different levels of outreach and partnership building. Step 2. Define anticipated outreach and partnership needs. Based on the anticipated pro- gram development, staff should define expectations for the outreach plan. What type of input is needed? What will the time commitment be? Step 3. Identify potential private sector partners. The pool of potential partners will be dependent on the region's freight system. A mix of stakeholders should be identified to address each mode, major industry, economic development, and impacted communities. Completion of a regional profile will aid in this step. Step 4. Conduct specific outreach on as needed basis. The outreach plan can consist of sur- veys, interviews, focus groups, and committees. In general, outreach is conducted as part of data collection activities. Activities should be identified to support freight program activities. Step 5. Solicit participation in ad hoc FAC. It is important to have a body of freight experts to use for key decisions impacting program direction. Although this approach does not call for regular meetings, it does require that there be a FAC available to staff for periodic use.

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3-62 Guidebook for Freight Policy, Planning, and Programming in Small- and Medium-Sized Metropolitan Areas Step 6. Solicit input on freight program development on an as needed basis. Staff should use the FAC on an as needed basis to address specific freight program activities. This interface should be used prudently to ensure the committee members are not over taxed and remain engaged. Advanced Approach Activity Outreach and Partnerships--Advanced Activity Type Policy, Planning, and Programming Level of Effort High Technical Complexity Moderate Data/Analytical Tool Needs Moderate. May require data collection efforts. Outreach/Partnership Needs N/A Training/Education Needs Low. Requires staff to apply basic freight knowledge, particularly relating to stakeholder outreach activities; should explore resources available from FHWA. http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/FPD/index.asp Related Activities Supports all activities. Key activity: Develop a formalized freight outreach program that is integrated into ongoing transportation program development. Step 1. Identify key planned freight program elements. Before an outreach plan can be developed, it is important to understand the basic direction of the program. Initial policy and profile work versus alternatives analyses and program implementation require different levels of outreach and partnership building. Step 2. Define anticipated outreach and partnership needs. Based on the anticipated pro- gram development, staff should define expectations for the outreach plan. What type of input is needed? What will the time commitment be? Step 3. Identify potential private sector partners. The pool of potential partners will be dependent on the region's freight system. A mix of stakeholders should be identified to address each mode, major industry, economic development, and impacted communities. Step 4. Conduct specific outreach on as needed basis. The outreach plan can consist of sur- veys, interviews, focus groups, and committees. In general, outreach is conducted as part of data collection activities. Activities should be identified to support freight program activities. Step 5. Solicit participation or appointment to a FAC. It is important to have a body of freight experts available to bounce ideas off of as a freight program is developed. A formalized FAC provides staff with access to this type of expertise. In addition, if the committee is desig- nated formally by the MPO, it will have the same level of input and political clout as other com- mittees. Specific accomplishments or progress will be necessary to keep the committee engaged in the process. Step 6. Hold initial kickoff meeting and define roles and responsibilities. MPO staff should hold an organizational meeting for the appointed or designated FAC members. This meeting should define roles and responsibilities, which will impact frequency of meetings as well as spe- cific activities undertaken to support the MPO freight program. Step 7. Meet regularly to provide input to freight program development. The committee should meet regularly to address its defined roles and responsibilities. Regularly does not mean fre- quently. The term "regularly" is used to imply that the committee commits to meet on an ongoing

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Integrating Freight into MPO Activities 3-63 basis to ensure the freight program advances. For some MPOs, this will translate into annual meetings to review needs and projects. Other MPOs may require monthly or quarterly meetings to support a more advanced and intensive freight program. The committee and MPO staff should be flexible from year to year to ensure that the freight program focus is current and relevant. Common Issues and Potential Solutions An effective outreach program faces many obstacles. The following table identifies some of the more common issues that hinder private sector freight stakeholder participation and strategies that can be used to address these concerns: Common Issue Potential Solution Differing planning horizons. Private sector Create quick-fix projects. Creating early success freight stakeholders often consider the public stories is a critical success factor to securing freight transportation planning process to be too long stakeholder interest. This generally involves identifying and cumbersome to warrant their attention, and delivering early, quick-fix projects that establish choosing instead to focus on short-range opera- program success. Projects meeting quick-fix criteria tional and profit goals. often consist of maintenance-type projects (e.g., addi- tional turn lanes, widening lane shoulders, traffic signal timing, etc.) that can be completed within a short time and without major funding requirements. Because MPOs do not have direct control over these resources, they must solicit them from the appropriate agency (state, county, or city) to support this strategy. Personnel turnover in the private sector. Focus stakeholder outreach efforts on firms and Interest by stakeholder firms is often dependent individuals with long-term and strategic commit- on individual interest. Industry turnover can ments to the community. Target firms include those have a negative impact on ongoing participation. with company headquarters and major operations located within the region. Such firms are likely to ensure that replacement personnel are provided when necessary. Target individuals include leaders within the freight industry that have demonstrated interest in community activities. Development of a regional freight profile can help identify these individuals. Such individuals are likely to continue participation in the process even if they leave current firms. Time constraints. Time constraints of the Hold focused meetings and outreach events. MPOs private sector freight industry hinder the ability must make sure that freight stakeholder meetings are to fully commit to the public transportation held in a time efficient manner and produce tangible planning process. results. The success of initial stakeholder meetings is a critical success factor in encouraging ongoing partici- pation. Conducting efficient, effective freight meet- ings requires significant amounts of pre-planning and preparation, usually with MPO personnel assuming an organizational role. Proprietary issues. Private sector freight stake- Understand and respect competitive concerns. All holders often worry about protecting company/ MPO freight data collection efforts must acknowl- client trade secrets and information that could edge and address privacy and confidentiality concerns affect a firm's competitiveness, as such they limit in all stakeholder communications. MPOs should be the amounts and kinds of information shared. sure of the kind of data they require before making requests of the private sector. In many cases, direct observations of traffic activities (e.g., truck counts, etc.) are just as useful as specific freight shipment data.