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14 C H a P T E R 3 Outreach and the Freight Industry The research sought to confirm the nature and type of prin- cipal freight industry stakeholders. Through the literature, interviews, and case study development, the research team identified the freight stakeholder groups identified in Box 3.1 and classified them by major group. For example, the private- sector freight stakeholders include a wide range of businesses and organizations, each bringing a slightly different perspec- tive to the planning process. In addition, several public and quasi-public agencies are among the list. The final category comprises other stakeholders such as environmental, com- munity groups, and the general public. The following section presents the findings on current engagement practices and summarizes the best practices for consideration by transportation agencies. Current Practices The SHRP 2 C15 researchâthrough the literature review, industry interviews, and case study researchâidentified a range of current practices to engage freight stakeholders in the plan- ning process. Common outreach practices fall into two broad categories: (1) ongoing dialogue and (2) focused outreach. Ongoing Dialogue â¢ Freight advisory committees, which organize public and private freight stakeholders into formal groups to provide ongoing interaction on goods movement issues with trans- portation agencies; and â¢ Freight stakeholder meetings, in which the agency makes a presentation on the plan, project, or program, including detail on the project, including study area, time frame for completion, known effects on the community, time frame, and expected result. Focused Outreach â¢ Workshops, where public agencies assemble stakeholders to work through some issues using visual displays of infor- mation and formal and informal facilitation techniques to elicit comment and ultimately reach consensus; â¢ Project materials, including newsletters, can be disseminated by mail or e-mail with a request for comment; â¢ Websites update stakeholders and provide a repository of documents and other resources; and â¢ Interviews can be conducted with stakeholders, both in person and via telephone or, depending on the stakeholder, through online survey tools. The C15 guide provides detailed descriptions of each of the current practices and what they entail. The guide also provides a description of which methods work best for each stakeholder type or group. Table 3.1 summarizes the best methods by stakeholder type. The application of the most effective methods is meant to provide general guid- ance as conditions can vary widely by agency or situation. âEffectiveâ is defined as the ability of the activity to moti- vate a response or participation in the activity. The table classifies the outreach practices as âFocused Outreachâ and âOngoing Dialogueâ. Under each of these headings are listed some (but not all) the potential strategies to engage freight stakeholders in the collaborative decision-making process. Cells with open circles indicate a general interest by the stakeholder in participating. Cells with solid circles indicate a high likelihood of success in effective collabo- ration with the freight stakeholder. If cells are empty, it indicates that the particular outreach method is likely to yield little useful information if employed for that kind of stakeholder. The research focused primarily on current practices to identify which ones would be most effective under each phase of the planning process. While the research did not seek to Findings and Applications
15 identify new or innovative means of outreach, this could be an area of future research consideration. Best Practices The research revealed best practices in freight stakeholder engagement and also identified some practices that could be improved in order to conduct more effective freight planning. The current best practices are those areas in which transpor- tation agencies are effectively integrating freight consider- ations into the highway planning process. In general, the best practices â¢ Engage a wide range of freight stakeholders, including those that have not historically been highly engaged (e.g., the shipping community). â¢ Bring together public and private stakeholders to discuss a meaningful range of issues and alternatives. â¢ Occur at the right time for stakeholders to understand the context and implications of the proposed project or alter- natives (e.g., not too early). â¢ Are not too onerous and are able to collect stakeholder input without exhausting the stakeholders. â¢ Lead to lasting relationships between the agency and stake- holders, not necessarily requiring their constant future involvement but ensuring the ability to work together con- structively when needed in the future. The research team identified which practices are best prac- tices through the frequency of citation in the literature review, mention in the industry interviews, and discussion by agen- cies and stakeholders participating in the case study inter- views. While the C15 guide provides extensive coverage of best practices, the following paragraphs summarize major findings. Box 3.1. Freight Stakeholders private-Sector Freight Stakeholders BCOs Logisticians Motor Carriers Railroads Industrial Real Estate Developers Chambers of Commerce and other business associations economic Development Agencies port Authorities and Marine terminal operators (Mto) Local Governments transportation Agencies FHWA, state DOTs, MPOs other Stakeholders Environmental, community groups, general public Table 3.1. Key Freight Stakeholders: The Most Effective Outreach Methods Focused outreach ongoing Dialogue Key Freight Stakeholders Freight Meetings Workshops or Focus Groups telephone and In-person Interviews Surveys (e.g., online) Freight Committee one-on-one Meetings BCOsa 4 4 c 4 4 Logisticians 4 4 4 Motor Carriers c c 4 c 4 Railroads 4 c c 4 c c Commercial Real Estate 4 c c 4 c Chambers of Commerce and Business Groups c c c c c c Economic Development Agencies c c c c c c Port Authorities and Marine Terminal Operators c c c c c c Local Governments 4 4 c c c Transportation Agencies c c c 4 c c Local Governments 4 4 c 4 c c Other Stakeholders 4 4 4 4 c Note: c = High likelihood of success in effective collaboration with freight stakeholder, 4 = general interest by the stakeholder in participating, and empty = likely to yield little useful information if employed for that kind of stakeholder. a BCOs (beneficial cargo owners) are the firms that ship and receive goods.
16 Freight OutreachâWhat Are We Doing Well? The research identified several areas in which transportation agencies are perceived currently as doing well with freight stakeholder engagement. Those areas include â¢ Advisory committees. The public- and private-sector partici- pants in this research project concur that agencies are doing a good job in establishing and maintaining freight advisory committees. Not only are agencies involving the right mix of individuals and organizations, they are conducting meetings and other forms of ongoing outreach that leverage the knowledge of the stakeholders to develop plausible recom- mendations. While much is left to learn as the practice of freight advisory committees matures in a postâMAP-21 era, there is general consensus that agencies are moving in the right direction in institutionalizing freight advisory committees. â¢ Early outreach. The timing of outreach engagement is criti- cally important. The research found that, in general, agen- cies are engaging stakeholders at the right points in the planning process. â¢ Corridor planning. Agencies are conducting effective out- reach with stakeholders within the study area of corridor proposals. The outreach may not be freight specific, but the methods employed in traditional corridor studies are sufficiently comprehensive to capture input from many freight entities. â¢ Engagement on specific issues. Just as corridor planning allows an agency to identify a specific geography and to focus on the stakeholders in the study area, agencies are generally conducting effective outreach on specific issues. For example, if an MPO is examining a specific issue, like freight and air quality, it can hone in on the right mix of stakeholders and conduct the outreach and tailor activities to collect input from them. â¢ Nontransportation agency outreach and collaboration (e.g., chambers of commerce, economic development). While there is room for increased interagency communication, the research showed that many agencies are effectively and con- sistently reaching out to nontransportation agencies, espe- cially economic development agencies, to share information and to collaborate. Freight OutreachâWhat Needs Improvement? The research also identified areas in which transportation agencies are perceived as needing some improvement in freight stakeholder engagement outreach efforts. In some cases, the areas are the same as those that are cited as âdoing well,â but for different reasons the interview subjects in par- ticular believe that there is room for improvement. Those areas include â¢ Better understanding of freight issues by agencies. While some public agencies are very sophisticated in their understanding of goods movement, many agencies have limited capabilities and understanding of freight issues. This has led some private stakeholders to develop a belief that public agencies should improve their staff and insti- tutional capabilities to conduct transportation planning in a way that effectively integrates freight considerations. Often these limitations are exacerbated by a lack of dedi- cated funding to staff freight positions. However, as agencies more fully integrate freight into future planning efforts, they will likely become more experienced and capable of understanding the unique nature of the freight industry. â¢ Interagency coordination. Multiple agencies covering differ- ent disciplines and geographies should be involved in freight planning and in cooperatively engaging freight stakeholders. According to the research, many of the transportation agencies that are leading freight planning efforts do not adequately involve other agencies that could contribute very effectively. Partner agencies could include economic devel- opment, energy, agriculture, law enforcement, and others, depending on the situation. â¢ Earlier engagement. In some cases transportation agencies are doing a very effective job of engaging stakeholders early, but feedback from the industry interviews conducted for this project found dissatisfaction among some stake- holders about timing. The general comment was that agen- cies needed to get out to stakeholders earlier to discuss options, issues, and alternatives. Please note that the research also found that many stakeholders are satisfied with the timing of outreach. â¢ NEPA process. Some, but not all, stakeholders partici- pating in either the industry interviews or case study development said that agencies should more consciously integrate freight into the NEPA process. In many cases, the stakeholders said that NEPA is perfunctory and not freight focused. â¢ More focus on multimodal involvement. The primary focus of the research was on highway capacity planning, and in that context the feedback from research subjects was that planners need to ensure that multimodal dimensions are considered. For example, a highway corridor planning effort should take into account all freight moving in a cor- ridor, on the parallel rail lines or waterways, not just on the
17 roadways. This means that agencies should involve other modes (e.g., carriers and shippers) in the highway capacity planning process. This is important because in some cases alternative investments in nonhighway modes can fulfill some or all of the goals of the project at a lower fiscal and environmental cost. â¢ Better integration of data and metrics. The research also concluded that agencies could do a better job of integrating data and metrics into the freight planning process. Plans and outreach efforts that are compli- mented and underpinned with careful analytics have greater credibility and have the ability to serve as a discus- sion point for more meaningful engagement of freight stakeholders. Summary of Best Practices â¢ Nurture âfreight champions.â Freight champions are indi- viduals with the ability to mobilize interest in advancing freight planning. A freight champion may be a private- sector leader, a policy maker, or an individual working for a transportation agency. An important role of the freight champion is to be a face for freight and to build trust and relationships with industry stakeholders. â¢ Engage early and frequently. Engagement should be con- ducted early and often, but targeted at key decision points to help conserve resources and avoid stakeholder fatigue, which can cause participants to lose interest in the planning process altogether. â¢ Improve freight planning capacity. Agencies should continue their efforts to improve freight planning knowledge and staff capacity. Stakeholders indicate that freight agency staff with knowledge of freight issues, trends, and operations provide additional value to the outreach and maximize the benefits of stakeholder engagement. â¢ Collaborate with other agencies. Work with other agencies and organizations to share private-sector freight stake- holder input, which sometimes makes its way into the planning process through elected officials and others with frequent and direct contact with the business community (e.g., chambers of commerce, economic development organizations). â¢ Improve interagency communication. Communications can break down between local, regional, or state government institutions and the DOT and MPO planners related to the highway impacts of new development projects (e.g., BCO purchases property near a highway interchange through an arrangement with local leaders, causing a bottleneck, and DOT is instructed to âmake it workâ). Inclusion of the MPO in discussions is helpful. â¢ Assist policy makers. Build their knowledge about supply chain and logistics; helps them connect with freight constituents. â¢ Focused meetings and materials. Stakeholders respond to plans and products that already have been prepared or summarized in a way that minimizes the time they need to spend reviewing materials. Stakeholder meetings should be focused with clearly defined agendas and action items. â¢ Institutionalize outreach. Establish regular meetings and outreach activities to build relationships and to improve the understanding of freight issues in the jurisdiction. â¢ Limited but creative engagement is most effective. Use tech- nology, other venues (industry events), focus groups, and so forth. Engagement is dependent on the scale of the freight stakeholder interest in the project. A more robust engagement strategy can be developed for a major truck route improvement versus a commuter route with few trucks. â¢ Post and integrate feedback. Transportation agencies should assimilate feedback from private-sector stakeholders, post it online, and make sure that stakeholders recognize that their valuable feedback is being integrated into the plan- ning documents. Decision-Making Needs and Gaps This project was designed to provide planning practitio- ners with better information on how, when, and where to integrate freight considerations into the planning process through stakeholder engagement. To accomplish this impor- tant objective, the research team filtered the information col- lected from the literature review, interviews, and case studies to populate the SHRP 2 decision-making framework with the most appropriate points at which to engage the freight stakeholders. Through several iterations of development, the decision-making framework was finalized as shown in Figure 2.2. The decision-making framework represents the most cur- rent knowledge as collected through this research project. In this way, the decision-making framework attempts to close many of the knowledge gaps in understanding how, when, where, and who to engage at distinct points in the planning process. This framework has not been tested formally, although it benefited from the vetting and theoretical appli- cation by several participating agencies. In the future, as the decision pointsâ framework is used by transportation agen- cies, it should be refined to reflect the lessons learned through implementation. It will be through that implementation
18 experience that another layer of research needs and gaps may become more apparent. PlanWorks Freight application The findings of the research have been fully integrated into the PlanWorks website: http://transportationforcommunities. com/freight_application. Within the PlanWorks website, the C15 findings are integrated into three areas of information: â¢ The Decision Guide and Freight Planning addresses when and how to integrate freight considerations into four phases of transportation decision making. â¢ Examples from Practice demonstrates successful methods for integrating freight into the planning process. â¢ Working with Freight Stakeholder offers guidance on effec- tive ways to form relationships and gather meaningful feedback from freight stakeholders. Through a series of drop-down menus and hypertext links, PlanWorks freight application allows users to navigate much of the material that is contained in the C15 guidebook, including specific case studies and recommendations on freight engagement at each point in the outreach process. Fig- ure 3.1 illustrates this. Source: PlanWorks. Figure 3.1. PlanWorks freight applicationâWorking with Freight Stakeholders.