The National Academies

NCFRP 24 [Final]

Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes

  Project Data
Funds: $450,000
Research Agency: Christensen Associates
Principal Investigator: Mark Meitzen
Effective Date: 10/22/2009
Completion Date: 7/29/2111
Comments: Published as NCFRP Report 16

Freight transportation infrastructure and operations are threatened by a variety of factors and trends. Examples include gentrification along truck routes connecting to urban freight generating facilities such as manufacturing and distribution facilities and marine ports that create pressures to reduce or constrain freight activities; prohibitions placed on freight operations because of noise, visual pollution, and emissions impacts; and incompatible land development adjacent to century-old port and rail facilities. Local citizens often influence decisionmakers to adopt public plans, policies, and investments that force relocation or discontinuance of freight operations and facilities, both public and private. Without better planning, the projected growth in urban areas in the United States, combined with the corresponding increase in freight demand, will result in the continued threat to freight infrastructure from “higher value” land use. Once encroachment by incompatible development has occurred near freight facilities, mitigation is an expensive, lengthy, and often unsuccessful process. Similarly, freight “relocation” often negatively impacts freight transportation by increasing travel distances or adding complexity to freight interchanges, ultimately resulting in increased costs to business and consumers. A better approach is to plan for and identify potential areas of encroachment and conflict before they occur and provide governmental agencies and private stakeholders with the knowledge and tools to prevent incompatible development near critical freight infrastructure. And where freight and non-freight uses do coexist, adopt more effective strategies for mitigation, conflict mediation, and redevelopment approaches that integrate freight facility preservation into broader public planning efforts.
The objective of this research is to provide guidance to public and private stakeholders to develop, preserve, protect, and enhance freight transportation infrastructure and routes for all modes of transportation.
(1).  Describe the general benefits and importance of an integrated multimodal freight transportation system for communities, regions, and the nation. Develop scenarios for 8 to10 common commodities (e.g., milk, electronics, home furnishings, lumber, grains) and trace their movement through the global supply chain to the ultimate consumer. Describe the commodity flow impacts on the quality of life in the broadest sense (e.g., shippers, receivers, consumers, communities). Select 3 commodities and describe the impacts to the supply chains of those commodities from the removal, restriction, and reduction of critical freight transportation infrastructure or routes and evaluate the consequences of the loss. Extrapolate from the results to analyze the general impact on the freight transportation system. (2). Identify and categorize the common conflicts and barriers between goods movement activities and public interests and concerns (e.g., safety, congestion, visual pollution, emissions, incompatible land use, noise, tax revenues). Provide multimodal examples of how these conflicts and barriers impact the preservation, protection, and enhancement of freight infrastructure and routes. (3). Categorize and evaluate existing public and private freight transportation activities and processes (e.g., operations, planning, and management; land use planning and zoning; site development) at various geographical levels. Evaluate their effectiveness for mitigating the common conflicts and overcoming barriers identified in Task 2. (4). Identify and evaluate a variety of North American and international efforts and approaches to preserve, protect, and enhance freight infrastructure and routes, including, but not limited to (a) planning processes; (b) communication strategies; (c) education and outreach; (d) policies and regulations; (e) design guidelines; (f) mitigation strategies; (g) asset management; and (h) conflict resolution. (5). Prepare an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 through 4. The interim report should also propose strategies to evaluate in 3 case studies. (6). Upon project panel approval, conduct the 3 case studies providing in-depth analyses of the application, acceptance, and effectiveness of these efforts and approaches, including direct input from project participants. (7). Twelve months after contract approval, prepare a working paper providing the results of the 3 case studies and lessons learned. (8). Prepare guidelines that define the suggested role of government at all levels and opportunities for private stakeholders in preserving, protecting, and enhancing freight infrastructure and routes.  In addition, prepare a web-based, self-learning instruction tool compatible with National Highway Institute (NHI) standards providing practical knowledge and methods to apply recommended guidelines to real-world situations. Submit a list of 40 candidate participants for the Task 9 workshop. (9). Conduct a 1-day workshop (including invited participants, panel members, and TRB staff) to evaluate the guidelines and self-learning instruction tool. It is anticipated that the workshop will be held at the National Academies Beckman Center in Irvine, California, in December 2010. NCFRP will be responsible for all meeting and hotel logistics for the workshop, travel expenses for workshop participants, confirmation of workshop attendance, and expenses related to workshop meals and rooms. The contractor will be responsible for all other workshop costs, such as invitations to workshop participants, preparation of electronic presentations, and handout materials. (10). Conduct follow-up interviews as needed to augment the information gained during the workshop. (11). Prepare a final report that includes the Task 8 guidelines and the web-based, self-learning tool.
STATUS: Published as NCFRP Report 16, Preserving and Protecting Freight Infrastructure and Routes.  The report is also available electronically at

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