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Integrating freight demands into capacity planning for better economic outcomes.

Guide to Better Integrating Freight Transport into Highway Capacity Planning and Decisions (C15)

Challenge

Freight transport capacity demands are continuing to grow. When transportation agencies act to improve capacity, often the economics of freight supply chains and how the movement of freight is likely to react to capacity improvements are not part of planning and engineering. Freight shippers, receivers, and carriers are highway stakeholder groups whose needs and motivations are not always well understood by the public sector. This gap leaves great potential for unintended consequences, including negative impacts on economic competitiveness, activity, development, and growth.

While there are many proposals for addressing these needs, the planning and engineering communities need to better understand freight economics and supply chain systems so they can make capacity decisions that benefit goods movement and create economic efficiencies. Planning for and providing highway capacity that serves economic development helps deliver highway projects with local and national benefits.

Solution

SHRP2 is developing a transportation practitioner’s guide regarding how to conduct market-driven freight planning. The practitioner’s guide provides a blueprint for appropriate consideration of freight transportation, from international to local, in the highway capacity planning and project development processes, including the key decision points at which freight stakeholder participation is critical for reaching good decisions. The research is meant to provide guidance to state DOTs, MPOs, decision makers, and stakeholders on appropriate consideration of freight in planning for and providing highway capacity that serves economic development.

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