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17 CHAPTER 1 Introduction Over the last several years, freight planning and investment variety of different private sector entities, and across public activities have evolved considerably. During the past 15 years, sector jurisdictions and agencies. Developing and sustaining transportation planners across North America have become these partnerships requires analytical tools that can provide aware of the changing nature of freight movements, as increas- insights into the nature and allocation of freight benefits ingly global economic markets and longer supply chains have and costs, and how they accrue across modal, jurisdictional, caused freight traffic to grow at a faster rate than passenger traf- and interest (public-private) boundaries. fic--a trend that has held for road, rail, air, and marine modes. Many previous efforts of the NCHRP, NCFRP, FHWA, and During this same period, state departments of transportation other research sponsors have helped advance the resources (DOTs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and techniques available to state DOTs, MPOs, multistate have undertaken efforts to more explicitly incorporate freight- coalitions, and other stakeholders to identify and quantify the related issues within existing transportation planning and pro- economic impacts of freight investments. Yet, those efforts gramming activities, by learning about freight movements, have not fully distinguished among the various public and pri- identifying and engaging freight stakeholders, pinpointing vate stakeholders involved in investment decisions, the types locations of freight bottlenecks, and assessing the impacts of of benefits and results that drive their decision processes, or freight movements on statewide and regional economies. As a how various benefits should be considered in freight invest- result, these public-sector agencies are now more aware of how ment decisions. In addition, they do not address risk analysis freight movements impact the condition and performance of nor do they address the different types of perspectives and their systems, and how improving freight efficiency can impact tools needed to deal with decisions at different stages of freight business attraction and retention efforts, regional and state planning, project selection, and project implementation. economies, and quality of life. The results of this research begin to fill a critical gap in Now, many states and MPOs have moved beyond the the resources available to freight planning and investment planning stage and are interested in how to address freight- decisionmakers across these boundaries by providing an inte- specific needs and implement improvement projects. These grated analytical approach to supporting and evaluating com- agencies are focusing their attention on where and how it makes plex freight investment decisions. The Freight Evaluation sense to invest public dollars in freight improvement projects, Framework developed as part of this effort defines a consis- who should be involved, and how risks and rewards should tent approach to evaluating freight projects by defining a wide be allocated. Attitudes and activities among private-sector range of public and private benefits and impacts of freight freight investment decisionmakers have evolved as well. Rail- infrastructure investments and identifying the tools and sup- roads, for instance, have shown a willingness to partner with porting data necessary to evaluate these benefits and impacts. public-sector entities to make system investments that have This Framework is capable of handling projects that span all demonstrable public and private benefits. Also, there is increas- of the different freight modes and able to assess benefits from ing interest by private infrastructure developers and conces- a variety of project types, including those that improve freight sionaires in making freight transportation investments that operations, as well as generate more capacity (both terminal promise favorable returns to shareholders. and mainline) through infrastructure expansion. The Frame- These and other freight stakeholders have begun to realize work distinguishes how benefits and impacts are evaluated at that freight system investments must involve partnerships the local, regional, state, and national level and, in so doing, between the public sector and the private sector, among a recognizes the role that different public-sector entities play in