Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), enacted in July 2012, includes significant freight provisions that go far beyond previous surface transportation authorizations, specifically, in addressing the importance of improving the efficiency of freight movement. These provisions include: a declaration of national freight policy; a requirement for the development of a national freight strategic plan, to be updated every 5 years; state freight plans; a biennial freight conditions and performance report; freight data, planning, and reporting; and freight performance measures. MAP-21 is a starting point, but by no means comprehensive or final as indicated by the long-term requirements concerning freight strategy and conditions and performance. Efforts will require development and expansion.The National Cooperative Freight Transportation Research Program (NCFRP) was authorized as 23 USC 509, in August 2005 through the Safe Accountable Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act—Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, Sec. 5209). SAFETEA-LU instructed the Secretary of Transportation to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to organize and deliver the program. SAFETEA-LU required the formation of “an Advisory Committee consisting of a representative cross-section of stakeholders, including the Department of Transportation, other Federal agencies, State transportation departments, local governments, nonprofit entities, academia, and the private sector” and that this committee “recommend a national research agenda for the program.”
The Committee was formed and, at its first meeting in 2007, approved the National Cooperative Freight Research Program Strategic Plan that declared the following vision and mission:
VISION: Relevant and credible information will be used by policy makers to make the Nation’s multi-modal freight transportation system more efficient, reliable, safe, and secure.
MISSION: The National Cooperative Freight Research Program will conduct research and disseminate timely findings that will inform investment and operations decisions affecting the performance of the freight transportation system.
There is now an opportunity to use the results of research conducted through NCFRP as input to the implementation of the freight provisions of MAP-21.
For example, reports that have been issued to date include (see Special Note C for access to the complete project list):
- Impacts of Public Policy on the Freight Transportation
- Performance Measures for Freight Transportation
- Framework and Tools for Estimating Benefits of Specific Freight Network Investment Needs
- Freight-Demand Modeling to Support Public-Sector Decision Making
- Reducing-Freight Systems Emissions and Impacts through Environmental Benchmarking
- Dedicated Revenues Mechanisms for Freight Transportation Investment
- Freight Trip Generation and Land Use
It is clear that these and other NCFRP reports that have been completed and will be completed in the near future have direct relevance and potential utility for consideration as input in implementation of the freight provisions of MAP-21 and the development of a national freight transportation strategy.
The objectives of the research are to (1) produce a searchable and sustainable web-based tool, to be hosted by the U.S. DOT, that identifies in detail how the findings and conclusions of NCFRP products can be used as input to the successful implementation of the freight provisions of MAP-21; (2) demonstrate the potential application of NCFRP products for MAP-21 implementation and other freight planning and programming applications; and (3) identify future freight research needs that would support the development of a national freight strategy.
Accomplishment of the project objectives will require at least the following tasks.
(1). Meet with the NCFRP project panel via teleconference to review the work plan, including a plan to obtain user input (e.g., during the annual TRB meeting in January 2014) from those responsible for meeting the freight-related requirements of MAP-21. (2). Review, analyze, and categorize the NCFRP research with cross references to MAP-21 provisions. This research will require the development of a directory of terms to access the research in an efficient manner with the tool. (3). Develop a searchable and sustainable web-based tool and user’s guide that identifies in detail how the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of reports by the NCFRP can be used as input to the successful implementation of the freight provisions of MAP-21.(4). Demonstrate the web-based tool to the NCFRP project panel and a cross-section of users via a web-based teleconference and refine the tool based on their feedback.(5). Upon NCFRP project panel approval, post the tool for 3 months on a temporary website, publicize its availability to a wide variety of users, collect comments from users, and make final revisions to the tool.(6). Prepare an outline of the white papers to be developed in Task 9 (including the selection criteria and potential authors) and a list of potential attendees to the workshop in Task 10. (7). Within 6 months, prepare an interim report that provides a summary of the results of Tasks 2 through 6, and identifies significant gaps in the NCFRP research where additional research could be useful as input to the successful implementation the freight provisions of MAP-21. (8). Prepare an updated production-ready, U.S. DOT-hosted version of the web-based tool (see Special Note B) with full documentation (including data structures, data requirements, source code, and maintenance and updating guidelines) and user’s guide. (9). Prepare a report that demonstrates the use of NCFRP research as input to MAP-21 implementation and other freight planning and programming applications, and identifies future freight research needs. In addition, commission 5 white papers that describe examples of the successful use of NCFRP research as input to a variety of MAP-21 freight provisions, the research agenda for NCFRP in SAFETEA-LU, and the NCFRP Strategic Plan. The white papers should also identify significant research gaps that have not been the subject of NCFRP research that could contribute to the successful implementation of transportation policy and the efficient provision of transportation services. (10). Conduct a peer exchange at the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA, to provide an in-depth review of the white papers; the report that demonstrates the use of the NCFRP research for MAP-21 implementation and other freight planning and programming applications and identifies future freight research needs; and the tool. (11). Prepare the final deliverables that include (1) the searchable and sustainable web-based tool, to be hosted by U. S. DOT, that identifies in detail how the findings, conclusions, and recommendations in NCFRP reports can be used as input to the successful implementation of the freight provisions of MAP-21; (2) the user’s guide for the tool; and (3) the final report that includes the results of the research conducted, including the 5 white papers and future freight research needs.
STATUS: Contract amended to add FAST requirements and additional project reports. The contractor's status report as of January 2016 is available at
The new link to the web-based tool is at