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A strategic roadmap for making better freight investments

Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement (C20)


Understanding and forecasting freight flows is critical to planning for future transportation capacity, operation, preservation, safety and security, energy and economy investment needs. However, many current freight demand forecasting models and data sources are more appropriate for passenger transportation than for forecasting freight movements and understanding freight travel behavior.

Freight data and modeling tools used in planning could also benefit from a single clearinghouse for freight information. Much of the most important data are generated by private sources that are difficult to replicate in the public domain.


The Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement (C20) product offers a road map that will lead to improved freight data sets and freight modeling practices. The project includes the Freight Demand Modeling and Data Improvement Strategic Plan, which outlines an organizational approach that will help identify freight modeling and data priority needs, spur innovative ideas, and result in breakthrough solutions for wide application.

This product encompasses an analysis of the current state of the practice, freight decision making needs, and the gaps between current freight forecasting models and real-world needs. The project also produced a strategic plan to guide future advances in freight modeling and data. The plan identifies seven strategic objectives to serve as the basis for future innovation in freight demand modeling and data and to guide both near-term and long-term implementation. Finally, C20 recognizes thirteen Research Initiatives (RI) that represent near-term opportunities to advance the seven strategic objectives. A Global Freight Research Consortium is planned to serve as an ongoing international forum of key stakeholders to expand the dialogue on freight analysis and data innovation.


Freight planners and decision makers will benefit from the tools and data to consistently evaluate transportation projects that affect freight movement. Creating better data and models will enable state, regional, and local planners to better predict freight movement trends, and make more informed project investment decisions.

In the Field

State Project Description Activity Contact
Arizona Implementation Assistance Program – The Maricopa Association of Governments will develop a multi-modal freight model to better replicate the economic behaviors of establishments, shippers, and carriers by modeling travel and tour formations in Arizona’s Sun Corridor mega-region. Proof of Concept Vladimir Livshits
Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG)
Florida Implementation Assistance Program – The Florida Department of Transportation is improving the accuracy of freight forecasts in order to support State, regional, and local freight plans and projects by collecting data representing the supply and demand chain for petroleum commodities distributed throughout South Florida. Proof of Concept Min-Tang Li
Florida Department of Transportation
Maryland Implementation Assistance Program – The Maryland Department of Transportation and Baltimore Regional Transportation Board will develop a regional tour-based truck model covering intra-local distribution with sensitivity to the long-distance truck flows represented in the statewide freight model. Proof of Concept Subrat Mahapatra
Maryland Department of Transportation
Missouri Implementation Assistance Program – The Mid-America Regional Council will use a combination of existing data and new sources of commercial waybill data to address future freight planning needs by enhancing their ability to establish targets that properly demonstrate the impacts to the cost of freight movement. Proof of Concept Darryl Fields
Mid-America Regional Council
New York Implementation Assistance Program – The Capital District Transportation Committee will create a unified data set for the region at the zip code or transportation analysis zone (TAZ) level by integrating diverse data sources that will support mitigating impacts of trucks, determining the impact of freight on quality of life, improving safety and security, prioritizing investments, and performance measurement. Proof of Concept Chris Bauer
Capital District Transportation Committee
North Carolina Implementation Assistance Program – The Winston-Salem metropolitan planning organization, as part of the Piedmont Triad Regional Model Team, has a three phased approach to more fully integrate freight. This approach consists of collecting data to support development of an advanced freight model, development of an advanced freight sub-model, and a travel diary survey that will be used to update the freight sub-model. Proof of Concept Fredrick D. Haith
Winston-Salem MPO
Oregon Implementation Assistance Program – The Oregon Department of Transportation will use a hybrid approach to understand the local portion of the region’s supply chains, as well as the tour-based behavior of individual trips to address economic policy questions, depict truck volume and flow of goods, and achieve a greater consistency of data flows between State and regional models. Proof of Concept Bud Reiff
Oregon Department of Transportation
Pennsylvania Implementation Assistance Program – The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission will advance a freight data planning program to better understand intermodal transportation for freight. This effort will integrate data for distribution supply chains and for performance management, and has the potential to be replicated elsewhere. Proof of Concept Ted Dahlburg
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
South Dakota Implementation Assistance Program – The South Dakota Department of Transportation will study the growth in commodity demand and production and analyze the needs and impacts on the State and local transportation systems. This project will enhance the understanding of how the growth of agricultural production and the current and expected location, timing, and impact of commodity shipping affect South Dakota’s highways. Proof of Concept David Huft
South Dakota Department of Transportation
Washington Implementation Assistance Program – The Washington State Department of Transportation will collect detailed behavioral response information from industry and local urban truck volume data for the State's food distribution supply chain to accurately model the key State supply chains' behavioral responses to different State policy scenarios aimed at reducing emissions. Proof of Concept Rachel Knutson
Washington State Department of Transportation
Wisconsin Implementation Assistance Program – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will develop a hybridized model for freight demand that, through integration with regional travel demand models, addresses deficiencies in the current statewide freight forecasting and establishes a robust platform for quantifying how different scenarios affect freight transportation in the region. Proof of Concept Jennifer Murray
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
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