The National Academies

NCHRP 08-53 [Final]

Integrating Freight into Transportation Planning and Project-Selection Processes

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
Principal Investigator: James J. Brogan
Effective Date: 1/24/2006
Completion Date: 3/31/2007
Comments: Published as NCHRP Report 594


By the year 2020, at even moderate rates of economic growth, the total domestic tonnage of freight carried by all U.S. freight systems will increase by about 67%, and international trade will nearly double. With ongoing growth in travel demand on virtually every system of transportation in the United States, transportation capacity is seriously inadequate. Congestion, reliability, safety, and system preservation will be major problems for the foreseeable future, despite improved operational efficiencies.

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) emphasized the need for state and metropolitan multimodal and intermodal transportation planning and programming activities to include freight along with passenger transportation. The traditional planning and project-selection processes have not adequately accounted for freight movement and freight needs. Some states and metropolitan areas have made significant progress in integrating freight considerations into their planning processes and in developing solutions to facilitate freight movements. Others need more guidance on how to better incorporate the needs of freight into their planning and project-selection processes. Improvements are needed in procedures, methods, processes, and cooperative mechanisms for freight planning and programming at both the state and MPO levels.


The objective of this project was to develop a framework for incorporating freight needs for all modes into transportation planning and priority programming by state, regional, metropolitan, local, and special transportation agencies. This framework is presented in a guidebook format and illustrated with examples of best practices for considering freight in transportation planning and priority programming decision making. 

This task was completed and the guidebook is available as NCHRP Report 594. The project final report is available as NCHRP Web-Only Document 112.

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