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68 CHAPTER 6 Methodology for Identifying and Evaluating Improvements 6.1 Introduction actions to improve freight mobility. Conceptually, the method- ology is designed to be a simple application tool where decision A major output of this research is a computer-based method- makers make selections to define the constraint and receive ology that decision makers can use to identify, categorize, and feedback on possible actions to address it. The user then selects evaluate quickly implementable, low-cost capital, operational, possible improvements that can address the specific constraint and regulatory or public policy actions designed to enhance under consideration and also proceed to view examples where freight mobility by addressing identified constraints. Hav- the actions had been implemented or proposed. The selections ing defined and characterized freight mobility constraints are designed as simple dropdown boxes that include options. and developed the criteria for low-cost and quickly imple- The methodology is backed by a database of historical low- mentable improvements, this chapter describes the frame- cost improvement projects. The value of the examples is work of the methodology. The framework acknowledges intended to illustrate the applicability of improvements and to that a proper methodology would be integrated into the stan- guide users in making suitable selections. The methodology is dard Project Development Process, which each state DOT designed to be data driven where the database of implemented and MPO is required to have if they were to use state or Fed- improvements can be updated and expanded as new project eral funds to implement such projects. The framework further information becomes available. The overall framework of the acknowledges that: methodology is depicted in Figure 22 and a concept of opera- tions is described below. Most candidate projects are developed from an approved The framework has three main components: (i) character- state or MPO planning process. ization of constraint by identifying its mode, location, and The planning process includes some kind of freight stake- type; (ii) identification of improvement options; and (iii) eval- holder input process by which candidate projects are uation of improvement options. suggested. Some kind of preliminary on-the-ground analysis has been conducted to ensure that the project can be implemented 6.2.1 Characterization of Constraint within the resources available and without more significant The first step in the proposed methodology is for a user to environmental complexities. select the freight transportation mode of interest, e.g., high- way, rail, or deepwater port and inland waterways. The following sections describe the methodology followed For the selected mode, the user next has the choice to iden- by a discussion of how it could be integrated into the plan- tify a subcategory of the selected mode and elements of that ning process. subcategory. For example, the subcategories of the highway mode include major functional classes (rural and urban). The user can further identify the location within the subcategory 6.2 Framework of Methodology where the constraint occurs, e.g., mainline, interchange ramp, The purpose of the methodology is to assist public- and intersections, construction zone, weigh stations. private-sector decision makers in identifying and evaluat- Similarly for rail, the subcategories are Class I, regional, ing low-cost capital, operational, regulatory, or public policy and short-line rail and the constraint location would be