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115 locations). These transport efficiency and business productiv- The Framework should be updated and modified to address ity enhancements typically lead to broader impacts on local these gaps and the critical lessons learned (as described in economic growth. One of the cases--Huntsville--was selected Chapter 5 and Section 7.1 of this report). to illustrate how a regional economic impact model can be suc- · Develop a more detailed set of procedures for using the cessfully applied to assess the broader job and income growth Framework and prepare a guidebook that includes these impacts of a freight facility improvement project. procedures and reference links to data and tools. The guide- The Framework could benefit from a more consistent book format should be determined with additional user approach to identifying the sources of risk and uncertainty input but could include both a hard copy and Web-based that should be incorporated in the analysis. tool. As described earlier, risk analysis often is focused on the · Provide the draft procedures to a number of users to fur- market and cost risks that create the greatest uncertainties ther test the procedures in actual practice. During this and that could lead to different project outcomes. The mar- test, the research team should be available to provide techni- ket risks may be a result of normal fluctuations (such as busi- cal support and assistance. Based on the test, recommenda- ness cycles), which may be reasonably predictable, whereas tions would be made to the consultant team for modifying other random events may be important to consider. and finalizing the guidebook. Guidance could be developed to help identify the most typ- · Conduct outreach workshop and presentations at key user ical sources of each type of risk and uncertainty for different group meetings to ensure that the guidebook gets out to types of projects. In addition, guidance could be provided for the widest audience. how to account for methodological uncertainty in the analy- sis. Given that there are a number of key performance attrib- Each of these elements is described in additional detail utes of freight investments that are difficult to predict with below as a series of tasks for Phase II. currently available tools and data, having a way to assess the level of uncertainty this introduces into investment decisions Task 1--Identify and Correct Gaps would be helpful. in the Framework This task would begin with the identification of gaps/lessons 7.2 Proposed Phase II learned from Phase I and identified in this report. These would Research Approach [Unfunded] include In discussions with the NCFRP-05 Research Panel immedi- · Draft an outline of more detailed procedures, including a ately after the Freight Investment Workshop, it was clear that quick reference to specific data sources and tools that already a number of the initial ideas about the focus of future research have been identified in Phase I. The draft outline would needed to be revisited. Although there clearly are areas where serve as a quick roadmap of the Framework to review with analytical tools and data that are necessary to assess specific prospective test users and could provide a basis for finaliz- freight investment benefits could use further development, ing the procedures that would be tested. these would be more appropriate for other ongoing research · Review the benefit categories identified by stakeholder type projects (e.g., improvements to freight forecasting and subna- and project type to ensure a final consistent set of benefit tional commodity flow data development are, or have been, categories to be used in the final Framework. Ensure that the subject of several NCFRP or Strategic Highway Research these benefit categories are consistent across modes and Program [SHRP] research projects). that mode-specific performance metrics can be reported in In general, the panel, the research team, and the workshop a consistent multimodal format. participants agree that there are many tools that already exist · Investigate ways of incorporating various sensitivities of that can be used in a freight investment decision analysis. stakeholders to the importance of specific benefit categories. Where the Framework developed as part of this research effort This could include the possibility of introducing a multi- adds most value is in providing a structured approach to con- attribute weighting procedure in addition to standard ducting analysis, integrating existing tools and data, relating benefit/cost analysis. the benefit analysis to stakeholder perspectives, and introduc- · Develop a more detailed reference list of tools and data ing risk analysis into the freight investment decision. There- sources for each type of analysis recommended in the project fore, the researchers recommend that the focus of future drawing on those already identified as part of this research. research be shifted to accomplish the following: This would be reviewed by the panel and the test users. · Review the risk analysis procedures and develop a list of · Work with prospective users to identify any critical gaps risk categories by project type to ensure consistency in risk in the Framework beyond those identified in this report. analysis across project types.
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116 While the research team is conducting this review of prior- 1. Start with an annotated outline--The team will first ity refinements to the Framework, three beta testers will be develop an annotated guidebook outline to share with the identified. These testers will be agencies or entities that are panel and the beta testers (as appropriate). This outline will willing to work closely with the research team to further refine document the proposed structure and organization of the and test the Framework in actual use. The beta testers should guidebook and allow the research team to ensure that the be selected, to the maximum extent possible, to reflect the fol- information will be presented in an easy-to-use format. lowing three primary application types: 2. Understand the target audience--When developing a guidebook, it is critical to understand who will be using it 1. Need to make a go/no-go decision on a project, and, by extension, how it will be used. Understanding the 2. Need to develop a project prioritization methodology, and target audience for this guidebook will allow us to develop 3. Need to determine cost allocation for a public-private its structure and content appropriately and in a way that partnership. meets the needs of its intended users. 3. Ensure that the guidebook complements existing To the extent that testers can be selected who have real proj- resources--As described earlier, there are a number of ect decisions and who have at least some data already compiled existing guidebooks and other resources describing freight for their projects, this would facilitate testing. It would also be planning and programming and the use of freight benefit beneficial if the testers represent cases in which both state assessment tools and data. The guidebook developed as DOTs and MPOs are involved and in which projects involve part of this task will be designed to be used in conjunction some cross-section of different modes. The research team with these other resources and will provide links to addi- believes that it would be relatively easy to identify prospective tional data and information. test users from the Freight Investment Workshop participants. 4. Use case studies to provide how-to examples--Freight Once the testers have been identified and have agreed to par- planning practitioners can benefit tremendously from understanding lessons learned and critical success factors ticipate, the research team will provide the results of the initial from other agencies that already have undertaken such review of refinements to the test users and will meet in one-on- activities. Our experience working with a wide range of one interviews to identify any additional gaps or issues that the state DOTs, MPOs, and regional coalitions has shown that beta testers feel need to be addressed prior to the testing of the case study examples are effective ways to demonstrate how Framework. freight concepts--including the use of analytical tools to evaluate potential investments--can be used to address Task 2--Develop Procedures real-life problems. The techniques, processes, and practices and Draft Guidebook described within this guidebook will be supported with case study vignettes derived from the case studies described Working with the beta testers, the research team and the in Chapter 5 of this report and others, as appropriate. NCFRP-05 Panel will agree upon a format for a draft set of 5. Organize the guidebook so that it is useful to both novice procedures to facilitate testing. This format may not be the and advanced freight planning practitioners--Freight final format of the guidebook in order to facilitate quicker investment activities differ among different stakeholder completion of the draft, but will need to have sufficient detail types, as well as geographic scale. To become a meaningful for the test users to be able to conduct analysis with limited resource to a wide range of freight stakeholders, the guide- assistance from the consultant team. book will be developed so that it provides useful informa- The research team will then develop detailed procedures tion and techniques for both novice users and those users and links to existing data, tools, and other resources for each who are interested in more sophisticated freight tech- step in the procedures for as many project types as can be rea- niques. The guidebook will be organized so that those that sonably assembled (including all of the project types that will may be new to freight planning or to assessing freight ben- be the subject of the tests), and will prepare a guidebook to be efits planning can obtain general guidance and informa- tested by the test users. This guidebook will incorporate the tion, while advanced users (or those wanting guidance on revised Framework, a summary of analysis tools, and other specific investment scenarios) will be pointed to specific associated information within a how-to approach to allow tools or methods. freight stakeholders to more consistently and effectively assess freight benefits and evaluate freight investment decisions. The research team will develop the guidebook so that it is The research team has led the development of a number of consistent with the key elements described above and meets guidebooks for NCHRP, AASHTO, FHWA, and others. This the needs of its intended audience. The beta testers will experience has allowed us to understand five key elements of receive an early copy of the draft to ensure that it is being successful guidebooks, as follows: developed in a manner that will best facilitate testing.
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117 Task 3--Test the Draft Guidebook clusions of the research. These materials, which will include detailed speaker notes, will be designed to be used by states, The beta testers will be provided with a copy of the draft MPOs, regional coalitions, industry groups, and others as an guidebook for use in an actual implementation test case. At off-the-shelf summary of the research and its importance. the initiation of the test, the research team and the testers will specify a test plan that will describe exactly how the test will be accomplished (i.e., the specific application of the guide- Task 5--Finalize, Publicize, book), particular elements of the guidebook that will need to and Conduct Outreach be evaluated as related to the particular application covered Upon completion of the guidebook, the research team will by the test case, and the schedule for the test. implement and disseminate it, working with the members of During the test, the users should be encouraged to attempt the NCFRP Project 05 Panel and other interested parties. There to use the guidebook without assistance first. However, during the duration of the test, the research team will be available to are a variety of stakeholders that could take an active role in provide technical assistance to the test users on an as-needed implementing/disseminating the final product. At the federal basis. At regularly defined intervals during the test, the research level, FHWA has an established freight program, and supports team will conduct telephone check-in interviews with the test many of the tools and datasets that are likely to be included users to ensure that the test is proceeding and to answer any within the investment framework developed as part of this questions that may have emerged during the test. The research research. Because of the multijurisdictional nature of freight team will record the results of these check-ins and provide movements, freight investments, and freight benefits, multi- them as part of the monthly progress reports. state coalitions, such as the I-95 Corridor Coalition, the Mis- At the conclusion of the test, the research team will meet sissippi Valley Freight Coalition, the West Coast Corridor with each beta tester and conduct an exit debriefing that will Coalition, and others will be important leaders in implement- obtain detailed feedback on what worked and what did not, ing the product. as well as specific recommendations for improvements in the There also are opportunities for focused outreach by inter- final guidebook. ested parties at key conferences/gatherings, such as the Asso- ciation of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO), National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), TRB, and Task 4--Revise the Draft Guidebook the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA). This Based on the input received from the test users, the would require individual champions, such as the research research team will prepare a work plan for making revisions team and panel members. to the guidebook and preparing it in the final format agreed Key implementation activities would consist of coordinated upon with the panel. Prior to undertaking these revisions, the outreach through established federal freight programs such as research team will meet with the panel and present the pro- the "Talking Freight" seminar series, conference presentations posed changes. In addition, at this meeting, the NCFRP-05 and workshops, and ongoing promotion by panel members Panel and the research team will discuss plans for outreach. and identified leadership. One key opportunity may be to After receiving approval from the panel, the research team leverage FHWA's investment in Financing Freight Improve- will prepare a draft final guidebook that will be submitted to ments (29) and associated workshops. The results of this the panel. The research team will respond to any comments research could be a logical "add-on" to this effort that uses the from the panel in the final version of the guidebook. The team workshop process to gain wider dissemination. In addition, also will prepare presentation materials that summarize the the presentation materials and speaker notes developed as part approach, key findings, important concepts, and notable con- of Task 4 will facilitate presentation in multiple forums.