Commodity flow data is a critical resource for conducting transportation planning at state, regional, and local jurisdictional levels and in corridors (collectively called sub-national levels). Commodity flow data is used to understand which industries generate the most demand on the transportation system. It also provides a key link between economic trade relationships and freight demand and is used in modal diversion studies. This data also is a key input to multimodal trade corridor studies and air quality assessments. Currently, there are a number of useful commodity flow data sources at the national level that are of limited application to sub-national planning because they lack the appropriate geographic detail for flow origins and destinations. National level commodity flow data sources cannot easily be used to identify available data sets for sub-national use. State DOTs and other sub-national agencies need a variety of tools to help them tailor existing commodity flow data for their specific needs and to develop additional sources of data. First, they need resources and guidance for making the best use of generally available national data sources. Second, they need guidance and resources that help identify commonly available local data sets with which to enhance commodity flow data. Lastly, they need guidance for conducting their own shipper and carrier surveys to conduct local, regional, statewide, or corridor commodity flow surveys.
The objective of this research is to provide state DOTs and other sub-national agencies with a guidebook for obtaining and compiling commodity flow data useful for their analyses. The guidebook will include (a) descriptions of existing public and private commodity flow data; (b) standard procedures for compiling local, state, regional, and corridor commodity flow databases from these data resources; (c) new and effective procedures and methodologies for conducting sub-national commodity flow surveys and studies; and (d) methods to use commodity flow data in local, regional, state, or corridor practice.
(1). Describe and review examples of recent or current efforts at the sub-national level to compile and use commodity flow information for transportation planning and analysis. Include Canadian, European, and other examples, including the results of HMCRP-01, “Hazardous Materials Commodity Flow Data and Analysis.”(2). Describe national data sets and their use and limitations for application at sub-national levels. Evaluate disaggregation techniques that have been developed. (3). Develop procedures and methodologies for conducting commodity flow surveys at sub-national levels. The deliverables from this task will include sample survey instrument(s). The procedures and methodologies should take into account considerations such as seasonality, weighting, coding schemes, geography, industry stratification, reliability, and international movements. (4). Demonstrate the application of the procedures and methodologies, including the survey instrument developed in Task 3 by applying it in a test case to address such issues as modal diversion, air quality, and/or public freight investment prioritization. (5). Six months after contract approval, prepare an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 through 4. In addition, the interim report should include a list of 40 prospective invitees for the Task 7 workshop and a detailed draft outline of the guidebook. One month later, meet with the project panel in Washington, DC, to discuss the interim report. (6). Prepare a draft guidebook that will illustrate how the data should be collected and used in models for decision making as well as provide guidance for compiling commodity flow data sets appropriate for sub-national analysis. The guidebook should include (a) descriptions of existing public and private commodity flow data; (b) standard procedures for compiling local, state, regional, and corridor commodity flow databases from these data resources; (c) new and effective procedures and methodologies for conducting sub-national commodity flow surveys and studies; and (d) methods to use commodity flow data in local, regional, state, or corridor practice. Submit the draft guidebook to the project panel for review and comment. (7). Ten months after contract approval, present the draft guidebook at a 1-day TRB freight data workshop in Irvine, CA, in the fall of 2010. NCFRP will cover travel and hotel logistics and expenses related to workshop participant meals and lodging. The contractor will be responsible for all other workshop costs. Revise the guidebook based on feedback received at the workshop. (8). Based on project panel review of the Task 7 revised guidebook, prepare a final version of the guidebook. In addition, prepare a final report with an executive summary that documents the entire research effort.