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Getting Started 2-3 Table 2.2. Freight self-assessment questions: your freight stakeholders. 1. What agencies are involved in regional transportation policy, planning, and programming activities (Municipalities? Counties? State?)? 2. What are the largest businesses in the region? Do we understand their operations? What mode of transportation do they use? Do they move a lot of freight? 3. Do we understand what materials or products are moving into, out of, within, and through our region? 4. What transportation service characteristics are most important to our shippers and receivers? Efficiency? Safety/Security? Reliability? Competitiveness? Intermodal? 5. Do we know who our service providers are for each mode? 6. Do we understand the concerns of our freight stakeholders? What are their needs? What would they like to see improved? 7. Has the private sector participated in policy, planning, or programming activities to date? Do they understand our process? Table 2.3. Freight self-assessment questions: your organization. 1. What public sector investments have been made in freight-related facilities in recent years? How significant and/or successful have they been? How were they funded? 2. What freight planning efforts have we already conducted? What resources were used to sup- port these efforts? 3. Are we aware of a regional private sector freight champion who has or could support our freight policy, planning, and programming activities? 4. Are we aware of MPO staff who have expertise or interest in freight planning? 5. Do we have political support from our community leaders? 6. What support have we received or can we expect from our state and federal partners? What is the state-of-the-practice of statewide freight planning? Is our FHWA Division Office active? 7. What kind of freight-related data do we use or have access to? Step 2. Definition of Your Freight Planning Program Stage There is no answer key for interpreting the results of the freight self-assessment. Rather, answer- ing the questions provided in Tables 2.1 through 2.3 should give you a better understanding of what you know with regard to freight and where the gaps are in that knowledge, for example: · How well do you know your region? In general, do you already have a good understanding of the freight system? Its performance? The key components for each mode? What areas are the weakest? The answers to these questions will help you identify the technical areas that need specific attention. · How well do you know your freight stakeholders? Can you identify major carriers and ship- pers? Do you know their key issues? Why they move goods the way they do? The impact they have on your region's economy and transportation system? The answers to these questions will help you identify data collection and outreach areas that need specific attention. · How well do you know your organization? Are you aware of freight-specific initiatives? Can you identify staff members or other partners that have freight expertise? What freight resources were identified? Has your agency conducted any freight-specific elements? The answers to these questions will help you determine the level of freight expertise that exists within your agency, as well as the potential resources that are available.