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5 CHAPTER 1 Introduction and Research Approach 1.1 Problem Statement mobility. These factors have significantly increased interest in addressing freight mobility constraints through imple- Freight transportation has been and continues to be a major mentation of innovative operational strategies, performance- contributor to the U.S. economy. Estimates indicate that the improving regulatory and policy changes, and low-cost capital volumes of freight are expected to double over the next two improvements. decades in the United States. A report (1) noted that the nation's Recent studies and statistics document the inadequate capac- freight ton-miles by all freight modes increased steadily at ity and increasingly costly congestion--not only on the nation's an average rate of 1.2 percent per year between 1980 and 2004. highways but also in metropolitan areas, at water ports, rail- The rapid growth in freight demand over the last 15 years roads, airports, and intermodal facilities. For example, the has produced growing concerns regarding the capacity of the trucking industry faces increasing levels of congestion each freight transportation system to support and sustain safe and year, including that resulting from poorly managed interac- efficient freight mobility. The increasing freight demand and tions between truck and automobile traffic on Interstate high- capacity constraints present several challenges to the manage- ways and local arterials, including traffic associated with inter- ment and operation of the freight transportation system. The modal terminals. As previously stated, the U.S. transportation U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) estimates that network is operating at an unprecedented high level of traffic volumes of goods shipped by trucks and railroads will increase density. For example, the density of traffic on the highway over 2002 levels by 88 percent and 98 percent, respectively, by system has more than doubled over the past 25 years with 2035 (2). During this time the ability to increase freight trans- consequences that include increased congestion, delay, and portation capacity will be constrained by budgetary limita- air emissions. Over the same period, railroad network traffic tions, geographic barriers, population density, and urban land- density has nearly tripled (4). There is no single or simple solu- use development patterns. The consequences of this increased tion for the mobility challenges. The approach should focus freight demand and increased density include increased con- on the entire surface and maritime transportation system rather gestion, delay, air emissions, and operational costs, among than mode-specific solutions. A system-wide approach to trans- others. Furthermore, evolving technologies, growing demand, portation planning and funding would yield desirable results. changing business practices, shifting patterns of commerce, Severe congestion increases the costs and frequency of needed and government policies designed to address safety, security, road maintenance, which in turn takes a toll on throughput environmental, and other public concerns may significantly and vehicle operating costs and productivity during the high- affect transportation system performance. way maintenance season. Freight mobility is constrained not only by physical infra- Many innovative, low-cost improvements are being imple- structure inadequacies but also by operational, regulatory, mented independently by public and private stakeholders [e.g., policy, technological, and financial limitations. Federal, state, state DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and local transportation agencies' ability to invest in system shippers, freight carriers, port authorities, terminal operators, expansion and new system technology has been significantly railroads, and other groups of stakeholders] to address freight constrained by inadequate revenue. The recent National Sur- mobility problems to meet their specific needs. Although many face Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission promising strategies have been developed and implemented, (3) noted that the nation is investing only about 40 percent of they have not been well documented or evaluated for their pos- the necessary levels to adequately sustain passenger and freight sible applicability or scalability to other regions or localities.