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19 C H a P T E R 4 Guide Outcomes The research culminated in the development of the SHRP 2 C15 guide. The guide summarizes the conclusions of the research and organizes the findings into a reference format for broad use by transportation agencies and their partners as they advance freight planning efforts. While there are many aspects of highway freight planning that would benefit from improved methods and best prac- tices guidance, this guide focuses specifically on one aspect. The objective of this guide is to make highway capacity planning more effective through better engagement of the freight industry. The guide is intended to help highway planners from state DOTs and MPOs and private industry stake holders more effectively and collaboratively plan and develop highway capacity improvements to improve goods movement. The guide accomplishes this by identifying appropriate freight considerations and by providing direction to state DOTs, MPOs, stakeholders, and other decision makers on how and at which points to integrate these considerations within the transportation planning process. The guide also integrates market-based information into the planning pro- cess to reduce the likelihood of the public sector making poor project choices (e.g., funding projects that do not align with freight needs or provide little benefit to freight stake- holders). Case studies and best practice examples are woven into the guide to illustrate successful methods to integrate freight considerations at all stages and phases of project planning. Potential Research The research conducted to develop the guide fulfilled many of the existing gaps in research. One of the primary research goals was to synthesize and disseminate best practices of collaborative market-based highway freight planning. This goal has largely been achieved through the development of the guide. Yet, during the development of the guide and through the vetting pilots, the team documented several research needs that may merit future exploration. These potential research needs include the following categories. Innovative Stakeholder Engagement Techniques The C15 guide provides direction on how transportation agencies might use the existing body of current practices to engage freight stakeholders. This report and the guide sum- marize the current techniques and estimate their potential efficacy in a variety of circumstances. One area the C15 proj- ect did not explore in depth is the potential application of innovative stakeholder engagement techniques. These tech- niques, which have been used in greater measure in traditional passenger transportation settings, could include greater use of social media, visualization, mobile applications, and other emerging avenues to engage stakeholders and collect infor- mation. In the future, the freight community may want to explore the use of innovative outreach. Engaging the General Public While the C15 research identified the general public as a con- stituency in freight planning, the research focused in greater detail on approaches to reach private freight stakeholders. Often, if freight is part of a broader planning effort, members of the public are well engaged through accepted approaches. However, in projects where there is a greater emphasis on freight, or where freight is the primary focus, there is less research available on how the general public might be effec- tively engaged. Conclusions and Suggested Research
20 Integrating Freight Data and Analytics into the Stakeholder Engagement Process A significant and growing body of research, including the SHRP 2 C20 project, has focused on the application of freight data and modeling in planning. Much less has been written about how to integrate data with freight stakeholder engage- ment into the planning process. Future research may seek to understand best practices in using freight data and analytical tools in outreach efforts. This research examines, for exam- ple, how stakeholders can play important roles in vetting the data analysis conducted by agenciesâusing commodity flow data, GPS data, or models. It could examine how stakeholders can provide data to inform the planning process and how agencies could handle and aggregate proprietary data. The future research also could examine the intersection of visualization and freight data to enhance outreach. This is an area that is not well understood and may hold potential to enhance mutual understanding of project challenges and potential outcomes. How to Engage Policy Makers and Other Groups Agencies participating in the vetting pilots expressed particular interest in understanding how to engage policy makers, includ- ing elected officials, in the freight outreach process. This is an area that may require additional research given that the primary focus of the research was on private stakeholders. On a similar note, future research may explore best practices in engaging city planners and other local government stakeholders. This may become increasingly important as counties and municipalities associate goods movement into land use planning. Future Directions This report has presented several potential research needs for future consideration. In the future, the FHWA will be leading future implementation efforts related to SHRP 2 C15. Imple- mentation of the guide is being planned for 2014, along with a number of other SHRP 2 products that are designed to improve collaboration in planning processes. As FHWA conducts SHRP 2 C15 implementation activities and as agencies independently adopt principles in the C15 guide, a number of other future research needs and directions may become more evident. Conclusion The practice of freight transportation planning has evolved significantly over the last decade, catalyzed by the enhanced freight planning requirements embodied in the last two fed- eral surface transportation laws and a growing national con- cern about freight capacity. The U.S. DOT, state DOTs, and MPOsâthe entities largely responsible for planning, pro- gramming, and delivering transportation projectsâhave started to invest in personnel, training, data, and consulting expertise to build freight programs that account for the needs of freight stakeholders. This rise of freight planning reflects a broadening recognition of the economic, social, and environ- mental benefits of efficient goods movement. As part of the increased focus on freight, transportation agencies have dedicated time and resources to engage freight stakeholders. With the growth in freight outreach activities, agencies have been seeking guidance on the most effective means of engaging stakeholders. In response, leading trans- portation organizations have developed a growing body of resources to direct freight planning practice. TRB, AASHTO, FHWA, and other organizations have developed training materials, studies, and guidebooks to foster expertise and to weave freight considerations into established planning pro- cesses. In addition, leading states, MPOs, and other transporta- tion planning and programming organizations have started to develop and implement sophisticated mechanisms to system- atically and comprehensively address a broad spectrum of goods movement-related issues through their planning activi- ties. This SHRP 2 projectâto synthesize and disseminate best practices of collaborative market-based highway freight planningâcomes at an important point in the countryâs eco- nomic and transportation history as freight and passenger demand eclipse capacity. This research effort was designed to equip transportation agencies and their partners with the tools necessary to imple- ment more effective outreach of freight stakeholders to more richly inform the transportation planning process. Using the SHRP 2 decision-making framework, the research team developed recommendations on where, how, and who to engage at more than 40 discrete decision points spanning all phases of the highway planning process. The product of this effort is a guide that is designed to significantly improve out- comes by orienting agencies to the most effective techniques and decision points to engage freight stakeholders.