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1 SUMMARY Framework and Tools for Estimating Benefits of Specific Freight Network Investments Introduction and Background Over the last several years, freight planning and investment activities have evolved consid- erably. The previous 10 to 15 years saw states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) undertaking efforts to learn about freight movements, freight stakeholders, and freight impacts and to more explicitly incorporate freight-related issues within existing trans- portation planning and programming activities. As a result, these public-sector agencies are now more aware of how freight movements impact the condition and performance of their systems and how improving freight efficiency can impact business attraction and retention efforts, regional and state economies, and quality of life. Now, many states and MPOs have moved beyond the planning stage and are interested in how to address freight-specific needs and implement improvement projects. These agencies are considering where and how it makes sense to invest public dollars in freight improvement projects, who should be involved, and how risks and rewards should be allocated. Attitudes and activities among private-sector freight investment decisionmakers have evolved, as well. Railroads, for instance, have shown a willingness to partner with public-sector entities to make system investments that have demonstrable public and private benefits. In addition, there is increasing interest by private infrastructure developers and concessionaires in making freight transportation investments that promise favorable returns to shareholders. These and other freight stakeholders have begun to realize that freight system investments must involve partnerships between the public sector and the private sector, among a variety of different private-sector entities, and across public-sector jurisdictions and agencies. Devel- oping and sustaining these partnerships require analytical tools that can provide insights into the nature and allocation of freight benefits and costs, as well as how they accrue across modal, jurisdictional, and interest (public/private) boundaries. The NCFRP research project described in this report, NCFRP Report 12: Framework and Tools for Estimating Benefits of Specific Freight Network Investments, developed such a tool. Through the identification of best practices, interviews with public and private freight stake- holders, and an assessment of the data and methods used to evaluate freight investments, this project has developed a Freight Evaluation Framework that represents an integrated analyti- cal approach to supporting and evaluating complex freight investment decisions. This Frame- work defines a wide range of public and private benefits and impacts of freight infrastructure investments and identifies the tools and supporting data necessary to evaluate these benefits and impacts. The Framework is capable of handling projects that span all of the different freight modes and is able to assess benefits from a variety of project types and scales. It distin- guishes how benefits and impacts are evaluated at the local, regional, state, and national level; and in so doing, it recognizes the role that different public-sector entities play in making fund- ing decisions for freight investments.