Freight is a critical component of the national and international transportation system, though its importance is not always recognized. The relevance of the freight transportation system is further accentuated by increasing e-commerce: deliveries to households in an average month that doubled between 2009 and 2017. Despite the importance of freight to local communities and the economy, many planning, transportation, and government professionals and the general public do not understand its value, its connection to land use and other transportation uses, or how best to address impacts of the freight system.
Many local and regional planning and transportation initiatives focus primarily on the movement of people, without adequate consideration of the movement of goods. With increasing urbanization and changing technologies driving both growing freight volumes and disruption of the transportation system, it is imperative for freight officials to effectively communicate the importance of freight to stakeholders and the general public. While there are some resources and toolkits available to support freight professionals with implementing specific freight strategies, resources are needed to improve public dialogue about the importance, impacts, and interconnectedness of freight with our day-to-day lives to make visible, and understandable, a part of our transport system that sometimes goes unnoticed.
The proposed project would provide departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and local agencies with visually-engaging and research-based resources, such as factsheets and presentations that identify why freight is important and provide examples of how jurisdictions have effectively communicated the role of freight in their communities. By considering the impacts of freight as part of the transportation system, planners, engineers, elected officials, and other stakeholders will all be able to maximize the efficiency of the transportation system and minimize the negative impacts of freight on their community.
The objective of this research is to present resources and best practices for public-sector practitioners, including, but not limited to, (1) conducting a comprehensive literature review to document the economic, equity/environmental justice, and infrastructure impacts of freight. This object includes, but is not limited to (a) freight impacts on non-motorized traffic in major urban areas, and conflict between user groups on streets and at the curb; (b) land-use decisions and policies on freight pickup and delivery needs, including, but not limited to, alley network development and preservation; off-street or actively managed curbside loading and unloading zones for postal, freight, ride-sharing, and waste collection; and connections to intermodal facilities, like ports, airports, and rail facilities; (c) Methods of integrating freight with passenger modes including transit, transit hubs, ride-share services, bike and scooter sharing, and freight-multimodal centers; (2) developing a briefing book and corresponding factsheets for the public, elected officials, and public-sector practitioners, ranging from staff level to director level, on the impacts of freight, the interaction of freight and the community, and the need to consider freight in community development and policy decisions; (3) documenting case studies that tell the stories of specific regions with differing geographies (e.g., urban, suburban, rural) and industries that enable other agencies to apply lessons learned; and (4) creating a series of short (2-minute maximum) videos or animation/motion graphics to explain the role of freight for presentation and online use.