Much attention has been focused on land-use strategies for reducing vehicle travel, as well as providing a range of other economic, social, and environmental benefits. These strategies include compact/higher density neighborhoods, greater mixes of uses, pedestrian-friendly design, and infill development—strategies that are collectively referred to as smart growth. However, research has almost exclusively focused on the impact of smart growth on passenger travel and generally ignored goods and services movement by trucks. In addition, there are many other factors influencing land use such as population growth, gentrification, and new supply chain management approaches such as freight villages, freight hubs, and inland ports that can affect freight movement. Freight traffic is growing faster than car traffic. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that truck vehicle-miles of travel (VMT) will grow by 50% between 2015 and 2040, compared with 26% for light-duty vehicles. Furthermore, diesel engine pollutants have emerged as a top health concern among mobile source generated air pollution, especially particulate matter and fine particles. These increases will greatly impact the nation’s ability to achieve its objectives for environmental sustainability and livability. As metropolitan areas increasingly adopt various land-use practices, research was needed on their impacts on goods movement by all freight modes.
Under NCHRP Project 08-111, “Effective Decision-Making Methods for Freight-Efficient Land Use”, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was asked to develop a guide to: (1) quantify and evaluate the impact of land-use practices and policies to support efficient movement of all modes of freight; and (2) develop quantitative and qualitative land-use assessment tools (e.g., models, matrices, guides) to assist local, regional, and state land-use and transportation decision-makers to support efficient movement of freight.