The National Academies

NCFRP 34 [Final]

Evaluating Alternatives for Landside Transport of Ocean Containers

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Tioga
Principal Investigator: Dan Smith
Effective Date: 3/25/2011
Completion Date: 9/12/2014
Comments: Published as NCFRP Report 34

An efficient and robust freight transportation system is essential to the continued economic well-being of the United States. One vital segment of the system is the deep-water ocean port, which, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration, handled 25 million loaded import or export containers in 2009. Both the highway and rail systems at deep-water ocean ports are congested in peak periods, as few were designed to handle current container volumes, much less future growth. Various projections show a doubling of containers by 2030, and this has led to a call for more freight infrastructure capacity. However, port expansion and cargo growth depends, to a large degree, on community acceptance, which in turn depends on reducing current adverse impacts from container transportation and mitigating future impacts. As a result, communities around the ports have called for alternative ways to move containers, especially ways that are perceived to be more environmentally friendly than diesel, or approaches that lessen highway congestion by separating freight transport from passenger transport. However, many have questioned whether some of the proposed alternatives are technically feasible, and if so, can they serve multi-site networks and mesh with the legacy port, highway, and rail operations? Research is needed to develop an objective methodology that compares the various alternatives to transport ocean containers to and from port terminals that is unbiased, provides equitable benefit/cost measurement factors (including port efficiency), and considers the entire container drayage scenario, from or to an inland location up to 100 miles distant from the deep-water ocean port.
The objective of this research is to develop a systematic methodology that can be used to evaluate alternatives for ocean container transport to or from deep-water ocean ports and inland destinations within 100 miles.
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
(1). Review current and proposed landside alternatives (e.g., maglev, vacuum propulsion, linear induction, linear synchronous, and hybrid diesel-electric trucks) for transporting ocean containers to and from deep-water ocean ports and destinations (e.g., distribution centers, transloaders, in-land ports, and intermodal terminals) within 100 miles.(2). Develop the criteria for a methodology to evaluate alternative container movement technologies that include, but are not limited to, such factors as capital and operating costs, transit times, technical feasibility, right-of-way issues, emissions reduction, operational attributes, vehicle headways, throughput, connectivity, noise, congestion reduction, community acceptance, commercial acceptance, safety, security, and compatibility with existing infrastructure. (3). Based on the results of Task 2, and using 2007 diesel tractor operational characteristics as a baseline for costs and emissions, develop a preliminary methodology that considers all relevant internal and external landside costs and emissions reductions associated with the use of alternative methods to transport ocean containers within 100 miles to or from deep-water ocean ports.(4). Develop a procedure to evaluate the methodology developed in Task 3 with appropriate stakeholders at two deep-water ocean ports. (5). Submit an interim report that documents the results of Tasks 1 through 4. The contractor will be expected to meet with the NCFRP approximately 1 month later. (6). Calibrate the proposed methodology for at least two proposed alternatives at each of the two case study ports, and validate the methodology using both experimental and operational data. Based on the results and stakeholder feedback, revise the methodology as appropriate.(7). For the alternatives evaluated in Task 6, develop the operational requirements and demonstrate that they are compatible with existing modal operations.(8). Prepare a final report documenting the entire research effort and the methodology that can be used to evaluate alternatives for ocean container transport to or from deep-water ocean ports and inland destinations within 100 miles.
STATUS:  Published as NCFRP Report 34.  The report is also available electronically at



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