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Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes (2012)

Chapter: Chapter 5 - Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14650.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14650.
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Page 31
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14650.
×
Page 32
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14650.
×
Page 33
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14650.
×
Page 34

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

30 This chapter provides an overview of freight preservation and protection strategies, and then introduces the concept of freight-compatible development and the tools for achieving it. The next four chapters—Chapters 6 through 9—provide detailed discussions of the four major tools for achieving freight-compatible development. Examples of Freight Preservation and Protection Strategies Given the critical role of freight transportation in the economy, preservation of freight facilities and corridors is extremely important. The loss of freight facilities, yards, and other ancillary facilities that may serve the network can cre- ate bottlenecks, increase costs, and potentially affect consum- ers through increased prices. Re-parceling lost corridors is often cost-prohibitive and can run up against community complaints. Preservation of freight facilities and corridors can be achieved not only through long-range planning activi- ties, as described in the next chapter, but also through other approaches, including delineation of corridors, freight sup- port and preservation initiatives, maintenance activities, and purchase of corridors to preserve them for future freight use. Corridor Delineation An important first step in freight preservation should be effective delineation of major freight corridors and associated facilities. At the federal level, there have been a number of attempts to prioritize and promote corridors that are important to freight. TEA-21 included the National Corridor Planning and Development Program, which made discretionary grants available for corridor feasibility, corridor planning, multi- state coordination, environmental review, and construction. This initiative was replaced in SAFETEA-LU by the Projects of National and Regional Significance, which aimed at funding projects that have potential national benefits but would otherwise not have adequate funding sources. On the maritime side, the designation of America’s Marine Highway Corridors by the secretary of transportation in 2010 was a major step toward integrating marine corridor options into the preexisting network of highway and rail corridors for serving freight. The private sector also has been involved in corridor delineation activities. For example, in late 2010, BNSF announced its “Corridors of Commerce” initiative. The Corridors of Commerce—BNSF’s TransCon, Great Northern, and Mid-Con routes—represent more than 11,000 miles of the network and are estimated to reach over 94 million people (BNSF Railroad 2010). Freight Support and Preservation Initiatives Neighborhood associations, chambers of commerce, and other freight groups have created initiatives to protect and enhance freight areas. Other groups also have come together to promote corridors and freight program initiatives. Three examples of freight support and preservation initiatives are Portland’s Northwest Industrial Neighborhood Associa- tion (NINA), the North American Super Corridor Coalition (NASCO), and New York Shipping Association’s Port Support Zone Initiative. NINA—NINA was created with a mission to protect and enhance the industrial business climate of Portland, Oregon’s northwest industrial district. NINA’s main goals are to • Ensure the integrity of GLIS; • Facilitate freight mobility for the benefit of industrial commerce; • Ensure river access values; • Facilitate ease of business operations relative to city, county, and state regulations; and • Keep lines of communication open between members and interested parties. C h a p t e r 5 Overview of Preservation and Protection Strategies and Freight-Compatible Development

31 NINA is discussed in more detail in the GLIS case study in Appendix D available on CRP-CD-105 and on the TRB website. NASCO—NASCO was created in 1994 to address critical national and international trade, transportation, security, and environmental issues. Following the I-35 corridor through the central United States and into central and eastern Canada and Mexico, the coalition covers a multimodal transportation network that connects 71 million people and over $1 trillion in commerce between the three nations. NASCO members include cities, counties, states, provinces, and private-sector participants from all three countries. The North American Inland Port Network (NAIPN) is a subcommittee created by NASCO to advocate for the interests of inland ports (intermodal transportation facilities) along the corridor. NASCO also created a corridor-wide tri-national educational consortium during 2010 to further coordinate freight research activities along the corridor. Port Support Zone—The New York Shipping Association created the Port Support Zone (also known as the Logistics Support Zone) to protect, encourage, and develop off-port facilities that provide truck parts as well as equipment main- tenance and storage and in other ways help to enhance port operations while reducing congestion, removing industrial/ commercial operations from residential neighborhoods, and improving quality of life. The association collaborated with the Metropolitan Marine Maintenance Contractors Association, as well as the State of New Jersey, City of Newark, and others, to produce a development strategy that recognizes the criti- cal nature of the maritime facilities that serve the interests of urban areas. The Port Support Zone provides a concentration of dedi- cated areas within a 1- to 5-mile radius to conduct port-related operations that do not require pier access. Relocating activities that do not contribute directly to vessel operations can result in greater on-dock space to handle increased cargo volumes without having to expand port land areas, reducing impacts on surrounding residential communities. Activities provided within this area include container depots, overnight secure truck parks, remanufacturing and maintenance, surge capacity facilities, transload facilities, and heavyweight facilities. For example, secure truck parks equipped with electric hitching posts for use by trucks and refrigerated units are anticipated to dramatically reduce traffic, noise, and air pollution. By providing secure truck parks, the initiative hopes to improve safety for local citizens, reduce truck travel, enhance security of cargo, and keep trucks off city streets and out of residential areas, especially overnight. Freight logistics areas also are seen as a way to encourage development of consolidated facilities for management of freight in a strictly controlled, geographically designated area. Again, the goal behind this was to enhance freight movement from port to customer while segregating these industrial operations from residential neighborhoods to improve quality of life and the environment. Maintenance as a Means of Preservation Maintenance of freight corridors is also a critical element in ensuring their continued viability. The Interstate Highway System and state highway networks are maintained by indi- vidual state departments of transportation, which are funded through federal and state gas taxes. Maintenance of the rail- road network is largely funded by the railroads that own the facilities. Air cargo facilities, for the most part, are found in the national airport system, and on-airport maintenance is funded by airport authorities and the local jurisdictions that often own them. Certain other activities, such as noise reduction program grants, are administered by FAA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for dredging and lock maintenance for the inland waterway system, Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, and U.S. ports. The port facilities themselves are maintained by the port authorities. Although maintenance is important for all modes, it is particularly important for the preservation of marine trans- portation. Two critical maintenance activities are dredging and lock maintenance. Dredging refers to the artificial removal of sediment from the bottom of a riverbed or other body of water, such as an ocean floor. It is performed in order to temporarily deepen a navigable body of water to allow a vessel to freely move without damaging its keel. Sometimes dredging is used to correct irregularities in the sea floor or riverbed to create a uniform depth. To be successful, a dredging operation must remove the sediment and deposit it in an area that will not allow it to resettle at the bottom. The difficulty in removing dredge material depends on the type of sediment to be removed and the depth at which the operation is occurring. Other factors influencing cost include environmental restrictions that impact the rate at which sediment can be removed. Suction dredging is typically the most economical dredge process. Dredging issues are a common point of contention in determining the optimal balance between freight and non- freight uses of waterways. In general, dredging is split into the following two distinct types: • Capital (i.e., new work) dredging projects are projects in which a channel is being made deeper or wider. • Maintenance dredging refers to activity to maintain the present authorized dimensions of a channel when siltation has occurred. For a number of reasons, capital dredging projects are more controversial than are maintenance dredging projects.

32 One reason is that capital dredging is more costly due to the greater probability of encountering varied or rocky soil. Secondly, capital projects, particularly in the marine environ- ment, have the potential to disturb ecosystems that inhabit the seafloor. Finally, capital dredging projects that deepen a channel are sometimes seen as gateways for more intensive freight usage of an area. Finding suitable locations for dredge material disposal is another pressing concern. This issue is particularly contro- versial when the dredged soil is contaminated and poten- tially harmful to human health. Remote disposal of dredge material can dramatically drive up the total cost of the dredging operation. USACE keeps detailed records on dredging projects around the country and historical records going back to 1963 (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2010a). The data show the cost of maintenance dredging, in constant dollar terms, has been increasing since 1990. This increasing cost trend is illustrated in Figure 5-1. Thus, it is becoming consider- ably more costly to maintain the existing system of dredged channels in the United States. The 1930s provided the most significant period of lock construction in the United States. Although many locks have been reconstructed or rehabilitated in the decades since, the lock infrastructure of the United States remains, on average, far older than that of the Interstate Highway System. As a result, the maintenance required to keep the lock system functioning continues to grow. On the Ohio River system, more than 25 percent of locks have already exceeded their design life. The percentage of locks that are beyond their design life requirements will surge in the coming decade. The problems associated with an aging lock system are not limited to cost. Maintenance-related lock closings also impinge on the reliability of the waterway system from a shipper perspective, particularly when these shutdowns are unexpected. Aggressive preventative modernization efforts could help to compensate for the inevitable deterioration that will occur on some parts of the waterway network. For example, by taking advantage of stimulus funding, USACE made the strategic decision to shut down the Columbia River system in December 2010 to replace or repair all eight dams simultane- ously. This was to be the longest shutdown in the waterway’s history. The waterway was reopened to traffic in late March 2011. As a result, this important marine highway corridor, which had been in danger of cascading failure, has been granted a new life (Walla Walla Union Bulletin 2011). Acquisition and Banking of Facilities and Corridors Preservation of freight facilities and corridors also can be achieved through other mechanisms, including banking a facility for future use, or acquiring a facility that the current owner may no longer wish to hold. By far the most common banking and acquisition process involving freight in the past 30 years has been the purchase of abandoned railroad corridors for other transportation uses or for “rails to trails.” Many states have legislation that offers the right of first refusal for purchase of abandoned railroad corridors to the state DOT and to the local jurisdictions that may want to partner with the DOT. North Carolina and Washington have particularly good statutory provisions for the purchase and preservation of abandoned corridors, along with corridor permitting controls for development adjacent to railroad corridors. Washington also has a Freight Rail Assistance Program, which can provide grants through the state DOT to support branch lines and light-density rail lines, provide or improve rail access, maintain adequate mainline capacity, and preserve or restore rail corridors (Engrossed Substitute House Bill [ESHB] 2878, Section 10, Chapter 121, laws of 2008). North Carolina funds freight rail purchases of abandoned Figure 5-1. Dredging costs per cubic yard of sediment removed (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2010b).

33 corridors out of general revenue funds (North Carolina General Statute 136-44.36A). Once a rail corridor has been banked, restoring active freight rail service may vary considerably and will depend on the type and intensity of adjacent land holdings, the duration of the abandonment, and the type of rail service being pro- posed. The main reasons it is important to preserve freight rail corridors and restrict placing the corridors into rail bank- ing are the issues of reversionary property right interests (where the railroad was acquired through easement and not as a fee-simple purchase) and community reactions to the restoration of service. Research released in March 2011 on abandoned rail corridors reviewed case law on the common law of property and reversionary interests that are held in many of these corridors. Class action challenges to rail-trail conversions in the early 1990s began to be instigated because landowners adjacent to railroads were unhappy that they could not absorb the land back into their property holdings (Morgan et al. 2011). In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court deter- mined that holding the railroad easement intact for future reactivation was within the scope of a legitimate railroad use (Preseault v. United States 1996). The Staten Island Railroad case study in Appendix B documents the strategy used to preserve a corridor in Staten Island for future freight use. Time is perhaps the most essential element in successfully preserving an abandoned corridor. Agencies that have advance knowledge of a rail operator’s intent to abandon have an opportunity to put together the funding and make other arrangements necessary to transfer ownership to a new party and thereby prevent the linear cor- ridor from being subdivided. This is particularly true in cases where a rail corridor is held in easement that is conditional on its maintaining a transportation function. Tools for Freight-Compatible Development The goal of freight-compatible development is to preserve existing freight facilities and corridors, effectively plan for future freight activities, and reduce impacts that occur because of the proximity of incompatible land uses around freight corridors and facilities. Thus, the main objectives of freight-compatible development are to (1) ensure that freight-transportation-related services are not affected by, or do not affect, other land uses placed close to freight corridors or facilities; (2) reduce and minimize community impacts that arise because of the proximity of sensitive land uses, including residences, schools, hospitals, and emergency services; and (3) incorporate the preservation and protec- tion of freight facilities and corridors as a forward-looking component of general planning and economic development policies. Four major tools are available—either individually or in combination—to achieve the goals of freight-compatible development. These are examined in the next four chapters as follows: 1. Long-range planning (Chapter 6), 2. Zoning and design (Chapter 7), 3. Mitigation (Chapter 8), and 4. Education and outreach (Chapter 9). Although most of these tools are prospective in nature and designed to avoid conflict, incompatible land uses already exist close to many freight-transportation-related services and conflict has resulted. In these cases, at least in the short run, measures such as design standards and mitigation approaches are a means to minimize conflicts. Table 5-1 lists some of the specific freight corridor and facility preservation and protection strategies under the four major tools that can be used to achieve better freight-compatible development. Table 5-1 is not an exhaustive list that covers every possible scenario. Rather, it is designed to provide examples of tools, policies, and strategies that have been found to be effective in particular contexts. All of the tools described in this report and found in more detail on the EnvisionFreight website, http://www. EnvisionFreight.com, can be utilized by different stakeholders (for example, various levels of government and government agencies, community interests, freight groups, developers) as they plan to prevent, consider, and—in some instances—deal with conflicts that arise because of proximity of incompatible types of land uses near freight facilities. The remainder of this chapter provides examples of how various stakeholders can use the EnvisionFreight website. For planners and elected officials, EnvisionFreight has been designed to help to • Understand how freight fits into the local, national, and global economy; • Understand the issues that arise from conflicts and how they impact freight-transportation-related services and a community; and • Begin to consider the kinds of tools, scenarios, commu- nication, and educational outreach that they might want use to improve their freight planning and preservation capacity. For developers, EnvisionFreight aims to ensure that they consider how freight activities may affect and intersect with residential and other sensitive types of land use they may be planning. With a better understanding of these components, developers should be able to choose appro- priate sites and design and incorporate construction and mitigation components to reduce conflicts that may arise.

34 For freight entities, EnvisionFreight is intended to provide education and assistance regarding land-use planning and zoning processes. With a better understanding of these pro- cesses, as well as tools that can be used to more effectively deal with freight in land-use planning and zoning, freight entities can be more effective participants in such processes. For individual citizens or community groups, the goal of EnvisionFreight is to provide basic information about the various freight modes and impacts that arise because of freight activity and proximity to incompatible land uses, and to show the types of tools that can be used to more effectively plan for freight. For state legislators and staff, EnvisionFreight is designed to provide information and ideas for potential legislative changes that would facilitate better integration of freight and land-use planning. Long-Range Planning Zoning and Design Mitigation Education and Outreach State Enabling Acts Regional Visioning Comprehensive Plans Freight Facility Inventories Official Maps Purchase and Advance Acquisition Land Swaps Protective Condemnation Permit Development Access Rights Zoning Standards Buffer Areas Overlay Districts Lot Orientation Property Design Construction Standards Soundproofing Standards Buffer Areas Noise and Vibration Treatment Track Treatment Yard Realignment Grade Crossing Management Port Gate Management Environmental Measures Zoning Measures Public Outreach and Education Relocation Informal Negotiations Public Involvement Multijurisdictional Agreements Stakeholder Round Tables and Freight/Community Committees Table 5-1. Tools for achieving freight-compatible development.

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TRB’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Report 16: Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes provides guidance to decision makers involved in freight facility operations, freight transportation planning, and land use on how to avoid conflicting land uses or mitigate existing uses.

The report provides information about freight transportation and its importance to people’s everyday lives; illustrates the types of conflicts between freight and other land uses and their consequences; and provides tools and resources designed to help preserve facilities and corridors, including prevention or resolution of conflicts.

In addition to the report, EnvisionFreight.com was developed as part of this project. The website is designed to complement the report by including more detailed materials then could be included in the report.

A CD-ROM packaged with the print version of the report includes the appendices to the report.

The CD-ROM is also available for download from TRB’s website as an ISO image. Links to the ISO image and instructions for burning a CD-ROM from an ISO image are provided below.

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An article on NCFRP Report 16 was published in the January-February 2013 version of the TR News.

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