The National Academies

NCHRP 08-176 [Pending]

Balancing Freight and Goods Delivery Needs in Designing Complete Streets

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Camille Crichton-Sumners
Comments: In development


The Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) introduced provisions that are important for both freight movement and implementation of Complete Streets policies. Per the IIJA, Complete Streets standards and policies “ensure the safe and adequate accommodation of all users of transportation systems, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, children, individuals who are aging, individuals with disabilities, motorists, and freight vehicles” (Pub. L. 117-58, Section 11206(a), https://www.congress.gov/117/plaws/publ58/PLAW-117publ58.pdf). Complete Streets is at times considered synonymous with active transportation, which refers to human-powered activities such as walking, biking, or rolling. However, freight is explicitly referenced in the Federal Highway Administration’s Complete Streets description; state departments of transportation (DOTs) are required to allocate resources for activities related to Complete Streets, and freight must be considered concurrently.  

With the rise of e-commerce and smaller delivery vehicles, curbside goods delivery, bicycle and pedestrian needs, advancing technologies, and other factors, research is needed to identify knowledge gaps and explore how to integrate the needs of freight movement with the active transportation approaches of Complete Streets to create more efficient, comprehensive, resilient, and cohesive networks. 


The objective of this research is to develop a guide to incorporate design and operational considerations for freight into Complete Streets strategies across land use topologies. 

In developing the research approach, considerations should include:

  • For the purpose of defining scope parameters, freight movement is related to surface transportation and includes trucks, cargo bikes, autonomous delivery robots, rail, and drones, as applicable;
  • Local, state, and federal transportation needs and economic development funding mechanisms;
  • Innovative solutions that prioritize the use of existing rights-of-way;
  • Applicable local, state, and federal codes and regulations;
  • Advanced technologies including autonomous delivery (e.g., autonomous trucks, drones, and personal delivery devices); and
  • Equitable outcomes for varying types of communities, businesses, and freight operators. 

Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks. 



Task 1. Analyze, describe, and critique pertinent domestic and international research on the bases of applicability, conclusiveness of findings, and usefulness for the integration of freight in Complete Streets processes. Include completed research and research currently underway. 

Task 2. Identify effective and successful practices for integrating freight in Complete Streets processes. This information may include performance data, metrics, research findings, and other information assembled from technical literature and from a survey of practitioners. 

Task 3. Prepare a detailed outline of the proposed guide intended to aid in incorporating the design and operational considerations of freight with Complete Streets. 

Task 4. Prepare an interim report that documents the work completed in Tasks 1 through 3. Include a detailed work plan for the work anticipated in Phase II. Following a review of the interim report by the NCHRP, the research team will be required to make a presentation to the project panel. 



Task 5. Building on the findings of Phase I, use partnership engagement to identify and summarize common challenges and conflicts related to policy, equity, funding, planning, design, prioritization and reporting, personnel, and the use and interpretation of Complete Streets policies as they relate to freight transportation. Interested parties shall include local municipalities, metropolitan planning organizations, DOTs, and freight providers and generators. 

Task 6. Develop case studies that represent a broad range of land use topologies using the findings from Tasks 1 through 5. The case studies should highlight challenges and opportunities. 

Task 7. Prepare Interim Report 2 summarizing the findings from Tasks 1 through 6. 


Task 8. Develop a freight and Complete Streets integration tool kit that includes a checklist, visual library, and primers on the following areas: equity, policy, design, funding mechanisms, community engagement strategies, partnership opportunities, operations, and maintenance. 

Task 9. Prepare a guide that describes how practitioners may consider all modes of surface transportation while balancing the needs of transportation systems users with the demands of freight. 

Task 10. Prepare final deliverables, which shall include, at a minimum: (1) a final research report documenting the entire research effort, findings, and lessons learned; (2) a guide to integrating freight and Complete Streets; (3) a freight and Complete Streets integration tool kit; (4) prioritized recommendations for future research; (5) a PowerPoint presentation describing the background, objectives, research approach, findings, and conclusions; (6) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”; (7) a presentation, as possible, of findings to two American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) councils or committees concerned with the integration of freight and Complete Streets; and (8) a draft article suitable for publication in TR News (information regarding TR News publication is on the TRB web page, http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/trnews/info4contributors.pdf). 

STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=5495