Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Statewide Freight Planning Considerations webinar. My name is Ann Marie and Ill be your coordinator today. All participants are in a listen only mode. We'll be conducting a question and answer session at the end of the presentation. You may submit questions on the web at any time by using the q&a tag. If at any time during the call you require audio assistance, press star followed by a 0 and a coordinator will be happy to assist you. If you experience any difficulty with today's presentation, contact WebEx technical support at 866-779-3299. I would like to turn the presentation over to Jennifer. Please proceed.
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Seplow and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Statewide Freight Planning Considerations. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.
Today we'll have two speakers - Suzann Rhodes of the Ohio Department of Transportation and Eric Powers of the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Suzann Rhodes serves as the Administrator for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Office of Urban and Corridor Planning where she has worked since 1998. Some of the responsibilities of the Office of Urban and Corridor Planning include:
Ms. Rhodes worked with ODOT District and Central Office staff and Ohio's MPOs to develop "ODOT's Project Development Process (PDP) and Transportation Planning Study Process."
Ms. Rhodes has a dual B.A. in Urban Affairs and Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds two Masters Degrees from the Pennsylvania State University: one in Regional Planning and one in Public Administration. She is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and a member of the several Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committees.
Prior to her work with ODOT, Ms. Rhodes had over 25 years experience as a planner and government administrator.
Eric Powers is a principal planner working for the New Jersey Department of Transportation's Bureau of Freight Planning and Intermodal Coordination. He has been with the NJDOT for four years and serves as the Project Manager for the department's first Comprehensive Statewide Freight Plan.
Mr. Powers holds a B.S. from Florida State University in Economics and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the Rutgers's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Prior to his work with NJDOT, Mr. Powers managed retail stores in Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.
I'd like to go over a few logistical details prior to starting the seminar. Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. The Operator will give you instructions on how to ask a question over the phone during the Q&A period. However, if during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the smaller text box underneath the chat area on the lower right side of your screen. Please make sure you are typing in the thin text box and not the large white area. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will use some of the questions typed into the chat box to start off the question and answer session in the last half hour of the seminar. Those questions that are not answered will be posted to the Freight Planning LISTSERV. The LISTSERV is an email list and is a great forum for the distribution of information and a place where you can post questions to find out what other subscribers have learned in the area of Freight Planning. If you have not already joined the LISTSERV, the web address at which you can register is provided on the slide on your screen.
Finally, I would like to remind you that this session is being recorded. A file containing the audio and the visual portion of this seminar will be posted to the Talking Freight Web site within the next week. To access the recorded seminar, please visit Talkingfreight.WebEx.com and click on the "recorded events" link on the left side of the page and then choose the session you'd like to view. Due to the size of the file, recorded files are available for viewing/listening purposes only and cannot be saved to your own computer. We encourage you to direct others in your office who may have not been able to attend this seminar to access the recorded seminar.
The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar will also be available within the next week. I will notify all attendees of the availability of the PowerPoints, the recording, and a transcript of this seminar.
What we're going to do now is hang on a few minutes until 1:00 and let other people join us and then at 1:00, we're going to go ahead and start with the first presentation of the day. So, if everybody can just hang tight for just a few minutes, we'll be back at 1:00 with Suzann Rhodes's presentation. Ann Marie, if you could put everybody back into hold, that would be great.
Well, welcome back, everybody. It's now about 1:00, and I see that we have had several others join in. We're going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic for those of you who just joined us is Statewide Freight Planning Considerations, and our first presentation of today will be that of Suzann Rhodes of the Ohio Department of Transportation. If you think of questions during the presentation, or during any of the other presentations, please type them into the chat area on your screen and we'll get them answered at the end of the seminar. So, when you're ready, Suzann, you may begin.
Thank you, Jennifer. Welcome to our participants. I, as Jennifer so graciously introduced me, I'm Suzann Rhodes with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the planning administrator. What I'm going to talk about today are some of my ideas and opinions of what can be done through statewide planning and through a planning office of a State DOT some of the programs that are used by Ohio DOT, some of the things we don't do. I'll give you some examples from what we do and from our plans and studies and programs, but there is more to it that can be done and more to it than what we do and some of these programs and ideas came from things going on around the country. If you are interested in learning more, there are three NCHRP research studies going on that talk about best practices and statewide freight planning and there is a guide book coming out for a small and medium metropolitan areas on what is being done in metropolitan. There is an NCHRP project incorporating freight in planning and projects. None have been released quite yet, all coming up in the next few months. That'll be presented in the workshop and January TRB meeting, I say tentative here, but I'm told by the TRB staff it looks like it's going to be a go. It will be a Sunday workshop. There will be no charge for that, incidentally.
Planning, when they asked me to do this and what can you do with statewide planning and what considerations, I always go back to what is the basis of planning. Planning is, in my mind, rationale decision making. It includes understanding what problems and needs there are, gathering facts and data, developing maps and doing research. It includes defining issues and goals in a vision, and quantifying what your majors and successes are. You take the research and talk to people, talk to private sector, talk to government people, identify what your vision is for, for example, freight planning, and the transportation system and what would be good and how do you measure that success and finally, it's coming up with alternatives, programs and strategies, what you can do in terms of freight or the transportation system to address the goals and the issues and make the system better. And I don't know where you are, but where I am, the planners don't make the decisions. All we do is present recommendations and strategies to those people in power to make the decisions. So, I took that consent and applied it to freight planning, it broke out into three basic things. The research, analysis and the facts is the basis of planning. Defining the issues and goals or some of the policy development issues is the next level. You go from the planning, understanding analysis into the policy development, what you need to do, what direction you need to look, how you can make changes and improvements to address your goals and finally into programming projects. So, that then leads you to a little matrix, which I developed and is in the bulk of the presentation. It will be the, what fits into these nine boxes, the nine boxes. We look at the goals and objectives for planning. We looked at measures of success or performance measures and then finally, what work activities. And the presentation will go through and will follow in the boxes with some ideas for you. Certainly this is not some total of all ideas or all activities or all goals, sort of a beginning jumping-off place if you're trying to put together a comprehensive statewide freight planning program.
The special considerations that you need to keep in the back of your mind when you do statewide freight planning is that it needs to be multimodal. A lot of people say freight is mode neutral basically meaning freight shippers and haulers are looking for the most cost-effective or the cheapest way to get their goods to where they need to go in the timeframe that they need it, and they don't, you know, if that, if that's the railroads or the water ports, it doesn't make much difference to them. The other important consideration is that freight is interconnectivity. It's the entire system. Most freight travels by many systems and it's not just highways. Just like people at some point, you're going to have to get out and walk. You don't always take your vehicles to get where you're going. You park your car and walk. Freight's the same way, travels by truck and needs to get to -- that don't have a line to the front door. The thing to understand is if it's both a public and a private sector endeavor, we're the consumers of freight, the private sector is what is hauling it or shipping it. We need to look in terms of a win-win for both groups, both public and private sector. In dealing with the railroads, if we talk about giving them money to make some improvements to their track, they aren't always willing to just take money to do that because they need to see that that really is going to improve their system and we, as the public sector giving money, need to find the public sector benefits in providing those funds. It shouldn't just be a private sector benefit. We need to find in freight planning the win-win for both sides. The other issue in terms of public-private sector is that time frames are different. We're talking about 20, 30-year plans and long-term for a business might be six months to a year. So, our timeframe's are different. The other important issue is that MPO and local perspective, a lot of projects we're doing might be in urban areas and we're asking local people to, local governments to put in money to make improvements and those improvements may not be a big benefit to the local, but they may improve the system statewide or multistate system may improve efficiency somewhere else. So we're asking for local dollars for a statewide system. And finally, the thing you hear over and over again when you talk to freight folks is that on-time reliability is critical; you know in Ohio we have talked to trucking companies that will say I don't care whether it takes me two hours or two hours and 30 minutes to get from Cleveland to Columbus. I just want to know reliably how long that timeframe is so I can schedule because my deliveries are, have to be made within a 15-minute window.
Okay. Now we're going to start the matrix here. The first is freight planning. My ideas for goals, not the universe of goals, but they're gathering facts and data and doing conditions report. Developing freight profiles of the state. Knowing who, what your businesses are and what needs they have. Second is identifying intermodal approaches to advancing freight as I said, it doesn't all, freight doesn't always move on one mode. It's not just trucking and there is a need to be creative in our approach to addressing freight issues. It's not freight issues. It's not just always highways and many of us who have worked in DOTs tend to focus on, and spend most of our time because most of our money's there and the traffic's there on the roadways. You do need to look beyond that. Another goal that I feel is very, very important is educating stakeholders, and I do this as part of planning. And understanding the concept of freight is a good neighbor. Freight is our economic health. It's between 1 cent and 14 cents of every commodity we purchase is a cost for moving or transporting it. If we can improve our transportation system and if we buy a head of lettuce that costs one dollar now and four cents of that was a cost for moving it across country, if we can improve the efficiency of our system and it's two cents, we have reduced to every consumer the price of the head of lettuce to 98 cents. A lot of people on the roadways feel that trucks are a nuisance, and we need to start educating folks that freight is our economic health. Freight is our economic health. It means our job and our standards of living. The other issue is the use of public funds for a public good versus the claim of private sector benefits. I've heard this argument many, many times, but you look at even getting passengers or passenger cars, people are going to work many times so we need to sort of refresh our thinking and understanding that every time we pick a project, we are picking a benefactor, if you will, and we are, our transportation system is a, a system as a whole that needs to run and we can't just focus on one area.
In terms of measures of success, things to look for that you're really making progress and using freight in freight planning, the quality of freight analysis in your planning documents and your short- and long-range plans and your district plans. The DOT departments or divisions incorporating freight considerations into decision-making. For example, are your design people looking at ramps that give trucks enough time to get up the ramp to get up to speeds, are your rest-area folks, when they're deciding the size of their truck parking considering the time that truckers are allowed to travel and their rest periods. An increase in private sector involvement in the planning process. We'll get into this a little later, are the, the private sector businesses beginning to talk to you and you're not just reacting. We had a discussion of this earlier today about sometimes planners are behind the eight ball, the business decides to locate in your state and they're going to put their factory there and then they tell and you then you have to deal, making your roadway improvements rather than being in, having a relationship with them and letting you know before they make a decision to locate so that you can work jointly with them, talk about what is best in terms of location and design and needs.
A freight planning activity includes soliciting and analyzing freight data, conducting planning level freight research and analyses, developing fright profiles including mapping. I will give you examples in a minute. Looking at all modes. Recently the Army Corps of Engineers helped us pay for a study of our water ports. They did a 50/50 match on looking at rail and water ports in the state in terms of economic development. There are ways of getting money to do modal freight planning in the state. The other thing that we do is we try to provide technical assistance data information and understanding. We make wonderful freight maps that are used by the governor's office on down throughout the DOT and the state agencies. They do look to have just those facts and you can wow them with a lot of these freight facts. Incorporating data into the statewide models. Another activity includes, incorporating freight into the long-range plan. I should back up a minute and talk to you about including data, the freight data into the statewide model. We have, we have a statewide model, not all states have them, and there is a need for the understanding that trucks don't move the same way cars do. Some states have freight models that are separate from and integrated back in with statewide models. You can't just say that a truck is the equivalent of two cars. They speed up and slow down differently. People get around them different. We've been able to use our freight data to validate our statewide model. It's going vary state-to-state how helpful the freight data is and where you get it from, et cetera. We have been fairly successful and incorporating freight into our statewide long-range plan. I'll give you examples of that later.
Into short-range planning activities. We are trying to quantify and educate the DOT staff into understanding freight issues, like I said, with even the design with the ramps and ramp speeds and rest areas. We're not really up to speed on terms of applying freight cost benefit analysis into projects. There are models out there that do this. We're just beginning to get into looking at projects and looking at the cost benefit from the public and private perspectives on this. Now I'm going to give you a few examples of how we have used freight information within our long-range plan. As you can so by this table, this is one of our comparative tables, it shows that trucks growth, truck VMT growth as grown as at a higher proportion than total VMT growth, which is basically cars. It shows that we are growing mileage at a very slow rate, which shows the, you know, which guess of you an understanding of the perspective of what is going with congestion. Here's a truck freight density map. One of the ways we use this. You can see the red line across the top, the heaviest freight flow line, and this was created out of the transport search data base. It's a model and it applies where the trucks would be going if they could. When we compared this to the counts that we have of the traffic, we found that that freight, although it was traveling east-west across the state, was not on this is our turnpike route, which is the shortest and best road. We then have our leadership was able to work with the turnpike authority to help them reduce their rates to and increase the truck speeds on this to get the roads, the trucks off of the parallel two-lane roads that was clogging and having safety problems on our local two lanes parallel and move the trucks back on to the interstate where they, they should be, if you will. Here's a, another map out of our statewide long-range plan. We look at the density of rail freight. And as can you see, rail freight tends to go north-south in the state as opposed to east-west, which is what our truck traffic is going.
Freight policy is in our next category. Goals include enhancing the knowledge of planners, developing institutional framework for doing freight planning, encouraging stakeholder dialogue. Measures of success include incoming the numbers of staff at DOTs and MPOs considering freight issues in the decision-making, increasing freight's specific criteria has as part of project prioritization. Some work activities in terms of freight policy. We have been to workshops and seminars around the state. We have done the education, peer-to-peer exchanges, we offer speaker services. One of the critical change things we're doing is having our leadership understand what is going in the freight and the freight has, needs to be considered the impact it's having on the system and wing over their backing and getting most importantly, direction from them, which way they want the state to go in terms of freight activities. We have also had a lot of liaison activities going on, working with our MPOs, the railroads, the air and water ports, the trucking association, and have highlighted in reds here, we're working with six other states on a multistate corridor study, you know, freight doesn't stop at the door. Like a lot of states, half of the freight just passes through Ohio. It just passes through and impacts your roadways. Advisory councils are something that we don't do and there are pros and cons in this, mainly in terms of the time frames it takes us to do something. I think it's critical to have discussions and build relationships with your freight haulers and shippers in the state, so they know where to come and who to talk to. I don't know that there is a need for a single point of contact. There are 20 to 30 states that now have it. The feds are pushing this and we may see this in reauthorization. I have heard pro and con for many states on it. These are ideas, I have heard wonderful success stories and other problems from a variety of states.
Here's an example of a policy issue. We looked at the bottlenecks and we looked at the value of the of the freight going in there to sort of privatize which ones we do first. You have to pick which one goes first. A lot of times, it's an economic decision on who or how are we helping our businesses the most, how are we helping the economy of our state the most. You know, I'm not saying that's the decision factor being used here, but that having the freight data and having policy allows you to get to that point.
Freight programming, this is basically programming projects and the goal here is to try to get the private sector issues to the forefront, if not the private sector themselves, involved in the project identification process. There are many ways of doing this. You don't want to be behind the eight-ball. You would like to have them talking to you as the DOT opposed to the governor first, saying we need this. Another goal is to improve the intermodal transportation system.
Measures of the success include increasing a number of DOT and MPO projects that can be identified as having a freighter and a modal benefit. I know that many people feel and it's correct, that projects that help passengers also help freight and being able to make the case and show that your project is helping a freight needs is, you know, we can talk about, we improved a river crossing and it's near the port and improved access to the port and we were going to do that to help the roadway, but that also improved freight.
Okay, program activities includes identifying projects in the TIP that have a freight benefit might be in your STIP or TIP. You want to put a column in saying this is a project that helps freight. Identify projects that can be funded through CMAQ across the country. CMAQ's used often to fund freight projects. Identifying public-private financial partnerships and looking for that win-win from both sides. Sometimes you can get money out of the private sector to make improvements. I know a lot of states with their inner changes require a match from the private sector for that.
What we did, here's an example from our statewide long-range plan. That's the web address for it. The name of the plan is Access Ohio, and this is from chapter 12. We did do a project-specific financially-constrained long-range plan, at least for 15 years, and what we did is we broke the state up into 26, what we call trade-and-travel corridors, which is where people travel and trade moves and projects. This slide is probably a little hard to see or identify by projects sponsor, the type of facility for over on the right is the goal that they're addressing and the legend will tell you, what mode it's primarily the facility is primarily on. The other thing we have done in terms of a wonderful program, we have a rail grade separation program, and we give $20 million a year statewide to prioritize projects. This is highway funding that we are doing grade separations of the railroad. It's a win-win, both, the rail companies can move more efficiently and so does the highway system, there is less congestion, fewer crashes. Here's another example of programming projects. We've done a rail, or a truck delay bottleneck study across the state to try to identify and rank where the worse bottlenecks are, obviously, as in many studies like this, it's the intermodal connections or the locations where the two interstates come together.
In summary, in my opinion the most important thing that freight planning can do at this stage in the game is to educate other DOT officials, educate your leadership, get people talking to each other, develop an understanding, develop staff within the DOT that know the issues, that set goals and conduct activities, not only in planning, not only data, but advancing from the just planning to some policy development and following through with some programming that focuses on the freight. Considering the intermodal aspects and the multimodal aspects and finally developing those partnerships. I think those were continual themes that I mentioned throughout the presentation. Those partnerships throughout your agency and partnerships with the MPOs and local governments and with the, the private sector.
I know you can't do questions now, but I couldn't resist putting this slide in. I have, we have a co-op from Korea who told me that this is a scene in China, either Shanghai or Beijing, he knows that by the sign that's the department store and shopping mall. This gentlemen is moving plastic bottles for recycling by bicycle. So, in other countries, freight does move by bicycle, I'll end with that, I'll end and turn it over to Eric. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Suzann. Thank you to those of you who posed questions. Looks like we have a lot of good questions there. We'll get to them at the end of the seminar. We're now going to move on to Eric Powers of the New Jersey Department of Transportation. And Eric, if you give me a moment, I'll get you set up.
Eric, you can begin when you're ready.
Great. Thank you. I'm glad to have the opportunity to talk to everyone today. As you mentioned, my name is Eric Powers, I'm with the NJDOT. Our Freight Planning Bureau is new but, that's not to say freight planning hasn't been going on within the department. And we benefited from other bureaus within our own agency, as well as from strong MPO partnerships in and around the state. There are three MPOs in the New Jersey, I know in the north with the NJPTA, John hummer was a previous speaker in the series. In the south, Ted Dahlberg from the DVRPC, spoke about goods movement issues around Camden and Philadelphia. They're well into their 11th year now in terms of being around. Even though our bureau is new, I should say our capacity to do freight planning, is enhanced by these groups. Thanks.
Without further credits here, I would like to jump into the presentation. A few things I want to talk about today. One that's right on target - that's the universe of freight planning considerations that are out there. Kind of broad. We'll have some slides discussing that. I would like to apply how we do something with those considerations and demonstrate that through two specific examples. And, in closing, looking ahead at final thoughts.
Let's jump right into the universe of considerations. I love this picture and I use it just about every presentation I can. Today, I'm using it for a backdrop for a couple of ideas. In my state, the volume of goods to be moved is increasing and the system capacity for the most part is kind of staying the same. We're no longer in the business here of creating huge expanses of new highway. We're trying to optimize operationally, tweaks here and there, what we do have, and strategic investments as well. For the most part, the system capacity has been constant, but the volume of goods is increasing. The distance between those two, however, really is an opportunity, and this is what I was trying to communicate about considerations.
There are lots of things you can think about to bridge the difference between what needs to be moved and what you can currently move: There are considerations about the time of day; what things could move at nighttime; the modes they choose in terms of truck, rail, or other innovative technologies (like distribution network where you can be moving goods around by barge); There are impacts, both at a system level and locally; There are political and legal environments and ramifications that go on for considerations - They influence what you can do; Economics; land use; operational considerations. There is a whole host, and the last bullet - add your own. It's limitless. Each organization is going to have a separate focus, but there is a whole wide array of things that you try to consider.
The point of this being is that there is more things that you can consider than you have time, money or analysis capabilities to do something. There is so much out there, and I have learned a lesson the hard way in doing the statewide freight plan.
When we started this work, we thought we were going to get the answer. I'm not quite sure what the answer is. If it existed, what would it mean? There are so many things to consider that it's been a difficult job. However, there is a bright side here, and that's: you can make a difference. We found from the programs and policies and steps we have taken that we can inform decisions. We can advance freight concerns, both within the DOT and with our partners. While we might not have all the answers, and, of course, any plan you make is going to be dated. Nevertheless, we're building those partnerships, those capabilities to advance freight issues and at the end of the day, that's probably the best you can do.
Eric, if I could just interrupt a little. If you could speak louder, please. We have had a few requests for that.
Okay. Before I go into the two specific examples, I kind of wanted to have a slide in here that framed the way we think about wrestling with those considerations. First off, you have got to know the basic facts and we knew some. We didn't know all to the degree that we wanted. What is moving, when is it moving, how is it moving, those types of things. You need a sense on how the system is performing. That's true for each mode independently, as well as the system as a whole, and that's one that gets harder to measure.
Probably most important in this list, even though it's third is really engaging your partners, the public and private sector. There is, I think there's been previous presentations talking about the difference between the two. I don't need to go in that here. You need both public and private sector participation, and by public, it's not just within your entity, your own organization. It's other state agency involvement. We have also been trying to focus on articulating clear goals. What are we trying to do here? Not in the broad planning sense of something like promote smart growth, but hammering it down to what does that mean? What does that mean for people trying to move projects through the pipeline? What does that mean for a local community trying to do their master plan? It's really trying to give input to help drive those decisions and set direction and in a way that people can understand it. That kind of gets it developing at game plan. There are specific things you need to do, but there needs to be an overall direction. Second to last here, get to work.
The study's not done yet. It's coming. But along the way, there have been projects we have been doing. Initiatives, we started. It's being pretty clear to me that while the overall goal is not going to be set in stone - in terms proscribing definitely where every aspect of every mode needs to be in 25 years.
We're building the capacity to address issues as they come up. What matters, especially to the private sector is what you're doing now, and that's really where they get the work. You know, as planners, we want to do long-term planning, but you can't lose sight of the fact that you need to accomplish something immediately.
And the last, I guess, "guiding principle" is essentially closing the loop. That is some kind of feedback, and the idea that you need to evaluate the progress that you're making.
So, I would like to now change gears a little bit and talk about two specific things we're doing here at DOT one is a Logistics Council and the second is the statewide freight planning.
At the peer exchange, the DVRPC, we had folks come up from Georgia and they, too, in Georgia, had a Logistics Council. I was impressed by the types of participation they had. They had a good showing of private sector companies there, they were pulling money, contributing towards doing research and we have a similar thing here in New Jersey where we did create this statewide Logistics Council.
While we have the MPOs that are active, the MPOs are really more concerned about their own MPO area. And there was no overlap between them - and there was no one looking at the entire state as a whole. That is where the idea of the statewide logistic Council came into play. There were a lot of trends that impacted locally and nationally. A whole host of private sector and individuals from developers to the truckers and legislature. Everyone has funding issues. That's nothing new to anyone on the call. There are a lot of laws coming out. Things like hours of operation for truckers, port security, taxes on different containers or things like that. There really wasn't a venue we had where you could talk about them at the statewide level, and we needed a forum to be there to understand the issues, we could hear how different aspects of these things would impact the others and really try to bring in a course of action.
The charge to the Council was pretty simple, unfortunately, doesn't mean it was easy. The idea was that through the deliberations and through the exchange of information between the public and private sector folks, we would identify a list of priority items, priority issues, things that needed to be changed that they could all agree to. While we might not have a model that could generate that number, when you have a critical mass of private and public sector participants, and can you agree that these are things that are most important to you, you can rest pretty sure that we're right on target.
Through the deliberations, they did come up with a list of some issues. The process that we followed was fairly straight-forward. I'm not going to read the bullets to you. Essentially we brought private and public sector folks together and brainstormed. Following that brainstorming, within our own bureau, we tried to organize the things they were talking about and group them, and try to think about how we might be able to move forward in addressing them.
We broke up in the subcommittees and they further reached the issues and came up with recommendations and next steps. All of that is presented back to the full Logistics Council to reach agreement and consensus on what those procedure issues were and what we needed to do, and we have been in the process of implementing those recommending as and trying to move forward on it.
Here's an example of three of the issues that came out of the process. One was a recognition that there is a long history of transportation planning and modeling as it relates to buses and passenger cars. Really understanding that linkage between land use and transportation, and understanding the relationship between national and global trends and how it might impact the municipality. There was a gap there, and so the group wanted some assistance in helping to bridge that gap. We needed to be capable of addressing the issues, and have a capacity to be able to address freight planning and coordination.
The second one, was the idea that we have underutilized properties around the port of New York and New Jersey, and they are right for redevelopment as warehouse or logistics uses. I know the previous presentation that John Hummer gave talked a lot about this. I'm not going to go into as much detail, however, I do think they record thought these, and can you, if you look at John Hummer's talk to get more information on this particular topic. The idea here was why we need to try to capture some economic activity from the flow of goods coming into the state. We've got the sites, some ever which are contaminated, some of which we think may be contaminated. And here's an opportunity to have logistics and freight-related activity happening close to the board, thereby, reducing the length of the goods moving, decreasing the total capital investment that mean required to accommodate the moves.
The third issue that the Council came up, the whole idea of extended hours of operation, and it was pretty well agreed to that it's not as simple as making the ports open. There is a whole supply chain out there, and many things need to happen to facilitate the change of getting trucks to deliver goods or major goods movement still occur at off peak hours.
The next couple of slides I have broken down the three recommendations as examples. In the web page, there is a link to the actual report. Going back to the subject of brownfields, and this is one I mentioned John Hummer talked about. The redevelopment of brownfields for warehousing is not something that is traditionally a DOT kind of a role. We do transportation well, we improve highways, we can change signal timing and those sorts of things, but we're really not a development agency. The way we advance on this is by working through other agencies, and there is an inner agency working group, which has agencies all around the state more suited for taking the lead to it there. It is a task force that you can go to if you were a developer, brings individuals from the different state agencies and if you have a project looking to move ahead, they can help you there - kind of decreases the cost of gathering information on what they need to do. Our office of smart growth is looking (which is under Commerce here in New Jersey) is developing and has a searchable web site where you can actually find different properties and information about them, what is known if you were a developer looking to come into the state. The port authority of New York and New Jersey has a Port Fields initiative where they're going out and even, in more detail, than previous studies had, identifying sites trying to match the sites up with people that might be looking to come into the state or expand the operations within the state.
The DOT Portway program which, is really now getting back into what we do best is a series of roadway improvements that essentially improve the flow of goods from the port of New York and New Jersey to the next destination. But, along that spine, along the Portway corridor, there are a lot of these opportunity sites. We're a player there. Because by improving the access, by improving the flow of goods and out, we make the sites more attractive. The picture you're seeing now, the redline kind of going up and around here is the Portway Phase One projects. It's essentially the portway corridor. My point was not to go into the details of the projects themselves, but the yellow blurs you see here, the little boxes are the opportunity sites, and understanding the relationship between the series of highway projects that you're doing and other goals like brown fields redevelopment are important. And that's some of the capabilities that we have been developing here supporting the initiative.
On the subject of trying to get enhanced institutional capacity to address freight issues, essentially we're talking about better coordinating Land use and Transportation, which is something in planning where there are numerous, numerous books on. Our DOT is getting a little more involved in these discussions as we take a leadership role within state agencies of trying to promote smart growth of trying to realize the vision of the state plan. We carry out the work by working with state agencies responsible for that plan. We're developing tools and capabilities to help bring the freight information and data and analysis we have at the statewide level down to the municipal level. Where you have a planning board or you have a zoning board that is thinking about doing their next master plan and they don't have the time or the resources to understand freights locally.
There needs to be a mechanism to be able to take the good information we have at the state level and make it meaningful and timely for what they're trying to be engaged in doing - Data and analysis tools to enhance some of our capabilities. We, too, had purchased Reebie data and when I first opened up the table, they were a little bit scary. It was just a spreadsheet of an Excel table, so what we're doing we're going to be buying a program that kind of sets on top of that Reebie data and allows us to get information and automate the process of making maps, for instance, so if we go with a county, we can go with maps, tables and graphs that summarize that or for dealing with a single municipality or region. Just we're developing a tool that makes it easier for us to not, you know, we don't have to worry about manipulating the data we can worry about the reports and talking about what they need, which is adding value to the information.
And through the last bullet here, to rollout the statewide straight plan, we're giving a lot of consideration on how we bridge the gap between the statewide policy levels of consideration and actual decisions that are being made in terms of projects within the DOT, or as I mentioned before, the planning activities or even developers coming in and looking for particular sites.
The slide you see here, we don't know to be going into the details, I don't think can you see them on the different colors there. Essentially, here is an excerpt from our state's smart growth plan in New Jersey, from our Office of Smart Growth. There are areas of the state where we are trying to encourage growth and areas where we're trying to discourage growth, creating urban centers and communities of place, and what we have been doing and working with trying to bring some of the freight data we have. I think in this particular one, the black dots are trucking and warehouse companies with 100 or more employees, and showing the relationship between some of these freight nodes and clusters as it relates to the concentrated growth areas of, advocating from a smart growth perspective.
The last of the three examples from the Logistics Council recommendation as I wanted to talk to you about was the idea of extended hours. I am sure you have all seen charts like this before. Essentially, the light orange bars (at least they're light orange on my screen) are the trucks coming into the Port of Newark and Elizabeth area. This is for the year 2000. The red bars are year 2000. The red bars are going out. There is a concentration on the peak. On the far left and far right, though, there is not much demand and there is an opportunity there. What we have done to the logistics couple is we launched an extended-hours task force, including public and private sector individuals and we're treeing to develop some very specific strategies we can employ to, encourage real companies to change the role patterns to make real truck trips, you know, move at off peak hours.
The last specific initiative I wanted to go over today was that of the statewide freight plan. I'm probably preaching to the choir here in terms of trying to go through a slide on why we need a statewide freight plan, but I'll cover the points briefly.
There is growth in our good movement sector, that's not news to anyone. We feel it here in New Jersey. We have got a lot of traffic, and a lot of dense development. We have major port and airport facilities, there is just a lot going on here. So when the growth and goods being imported goes up, we feel it here. We have existing infrastructure deficiencies, there is operational, logistics concerns. Even something simple as moving more goods by rail is large here because of the ridership we have and many of the freight lines share with passenger service. There is a whole host of considerations out there. We talked before about land use, the idea of smart growth and brownfields and there are other competing uses. Retail and informational establishments wanting to come in. Safety and security is high on most people's list. Funding in general and economic development.
The point of the slide that was there was just so much going on we needed an opportunity to take a step back to even go above the MPO level and kind of do what, I guess, an overlay analysis. Let's put these things down, scratch our heads and figure out what we're trying to accomplish here. What do all of these programs do or mean at the statewide level?
Into that mix are activities going on, you know, work here at NJDOT is not stopping because we're doing the statewide plan. We have pipeline projects, things are advanced by us and others. We have the Portway study, which I talked about briefly, but there was a follow up study taking a look at what was next after the portway project. We have our own long-rage plan. The Logistics Council activities are underway. Through the mid-Atlantic rail operations and improvement study that was done (which was a collaborative effort with the I-95 corridor coalition) there were a series of rail improvements that were identified to improve main line operations, and of those New Jersey pieces, progress is being made on those projects. There is also, you know, ideas like doing a tunnel underneath the new cross harbor tunnel, where can you have train come under the Hudson and carry goods into New York. That's being advocated by the New York economic development Corporation. There are other improvements and local agendas and a whole host of activities going on. Each one was trying to optimize for the own reason. There was no place to look at what it meant from the system perspectives.
We had specific objectives we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to examine key freight and logistics issues from that statewide perspective. We needed, in general, to increase our understanding of what was going on from a goods movement perspective in the state, and get some real accurate facts and figures and be able to tell the freight story clearly. I think people started to believe that goods appear in the store by magic. That's not the case. In New Jersey, trucks dominate in terms of the last mile of distribution, and I am sure that's true in all of your states as well. We need to make sure that we're communicating to people the purpose of these freight movements and we could do that by telling that freight story.
We needed the freight plan to be a basis for recommending strategies and actions, policies, things that the DOT and others needed to be able to do in terms of setting general direction. We were using it as an opportunity to get different data, enhance our analysis, basically enable us to provide information to the decision maker. Through the whole process, of course, we're building the partnerships, both public and private that we can use to be adaptive. Freight is a dynamic environment. Like I said before, there is not one plan you can make that is going to work in 2025 -- things change. Your ability to enhance and change, and address the different questions coming up are important.
We did have a guidance structure to the plan which was a little different than we have done in other studies. Essentially, what we did is had our major sister transportation agencies part of the advisory board and our management committee, and as well as using the Logistics Council. We had more extensive outreach on the management side of it to make sure that as we came up with recommendations that require different agencies to do things, that they were part of the process that created it. To see what we have done so far, log on to our web page for what we call the synthesis document.
When we first started the study about a year and a half ago, we essentially needed to take a stab at taking all the information and projects and everything and put it together and see about it looked like. That was the synthesis document. In the process of creating that, we learned a lot. We were able to refine the direction the plan was taking and find out better what we needed to do and produce a final draft. We have been acquiring additional data maps and those types of things. Of course, with the study, there has been a lot. We have had meetings with public and private sector. We have had going from the Logistics couple meetings to one-on-one interviews.
Because there was no tool out there that you could just plug and chug and give you the answer, we needed to pull the answer out from people that knew particular pieces about particular modes and particular locations and you only got that by asking questions and also reviewing some of the work that was done before. Through the process, we have launched additional efforts. We're currently engaged in upgrading our rail GIS layer and putting better attributes to it to have that to help inform decisions. I mentioned before about the commodity flow data tool that we're developing on top of that, and even with other, like GIS data layers with priority card or in those types of things or where the warehouses are located, it's not just enough to get that data and have it in GIS. We have really been trying to figure out how to get that information from some kind of a central location. Now to the people that need it to make the decisions. The slide here is, we call it the framework, and this is what drove us and guided our work as we were producing that synthesis document. Because the stacks of paper and studies and reports and issues were huge, we needed a way to think about them and organize them. We used the framework.
Going across the top, we, we asked ourselves questions about things, whether they were local and in match, whether that were state in nature or international. Just because something has a specific, let's say, exit 8-a, for example, off the New Jersey turnpike, there are locals considering, but it serves a state function as well, and there are regional impacts to what goes on in that location. We can take pieces of something like 8-A on the Turnpike, try to break is down and think what it means relative to different scales. On the left-hand side going down is the blue and the yellow. The yellow pieces were going at the systems elements, nodes, carters and sports facilities. Nodes were specific DOTs. Corridors were the highways or railway or charters that supported those and facilities like truck rest trucks, terminals, weigh stations, those types of things. The blue station talked about land use and smart public perceptions. These are things hard to quantify or measure. They have dramatic implications on what can you do nationally or all the way down to the local level. This was the framework that we used and we kept referring back to that when we were trying to think about, okay, we know the project is going on. What does it mean? How do we layer this into the statewide view. This is what helped us.
Well, what we have left to do for this study is we need to (we're in the process now this month) complete the draft of the plan. That's going to be shipped out to our guidance agencies, the advisory board and the management committee for review, and we're looking to finalize the plan in the summer of 2005.
I do have a web page here and I believe you can get this slide show after the recording it. I guess we can maybe give this out as an answer on the e-mail messages. But there is a link to our page and on here, can you find study sheets or deliverables and future deliverables as they come out for the freight plan.
Where are we going with all of this? For us, doing the freight plan, the process, was probably more important than the actual product itself. The partnerships that we made, the goals we uncovered, the general directions that we set were important. But really, the challenge is going to be moving from that statewide perspective to getting that down to specific things that you do. And things specifically happen at locations that you can identify. Within towns, within projects and corridor studies. Looking ahead for us, the challenge is taking the broader concepts and broader recommendations and making them relevant to the decisions going on now, from everything from prioritizing projects to coming up with projects that needs to be done. Continuing to strengthen the partnerships that we had developed. As I said before, there is no one plan going perfect 25 years out. If you have the partners, commitment and trust, can you adapt and change as time goes. And essentially, taking it one step at a time. The things you do are more important than the things you talk about doing and once the plan is over, we're going to be focusing on that dual phase. With that, I'm done. Thank you, thank you for your time, and I guess I'll turn it back over now.
Thank you, Eric. I hope everybody found both of the presentations interesting. Before we start with the question and answer period, there are a few things that have been typed into the chat area I want to address first. First of all, yes, any studies that anybody has available that they want to share; you can send them to the LISTSERV. The LISTSERV, I believe, has over 500 members right now. Send them to me as well and I'll disseminate it to everyone in attendance and make sure they get it. The other thing s I will send out following the seminar, the presentation, as well as a list of contact information for everyone in attendance, or at least for those people who gave me permission when they registered to send the contact information. You can contact each other that way, and also, I wanted to note on the web site, which I will type the address in a minute, there is a new link to the state DOT freight contacts and to the best of our knowledge, they're current. If you look at it and see the contact is incorrect, send me or Eloise Freeman-Powell a letter and we'll get the correct contacts updated. With that, I am going to start off with the question-and-answer session. And I'll go ahead and start off with a question for Eric, since you finished your presentation just now, it's fresh in everybody's minds. Let me look through the list here and get the question.
The question is: what is the software tool you will be acquiring to analyze the maze of Reebie freight data?
They're, the particular package we're looking at is called freight tools. And it's one that they, a private vendor is putting out. But, we have also had similar work done by one of the research universities. I probably would rather answer that offline than plug a particular vendor. We haven't actually made that purchase yet. We've scoped out what we want. We're in the process of acquiring it.
There are actually several vendors that sell products like that.
What the data is does is when you get it, it takes the commodity data and what this tool does is links it to GIS and then you can use GIS tools, then to extract information out of the data and make maps and plot it. Depending on how, if you got your data at the county level, can you make maps throughout the county. We purchased data down to the zip code, which is pushing it in some areas, but won't that finer grain so that we could group things differently. Essentially what the program does is sits on top of the data and allows you to make queries, sort things and then it exports it to a GIS program so can you grab it.
Okay and the person who asked that question, if you want to contact Eric, I'll put the slide back up in a few minutes with all the presenters' e-mail addresses. We do have a few questions directed to Suzann. Once she answers them, if you have input as well, Eric, jump in and answer. They're statewide planning freight related. For you, Suzann, we'll start off with can you go into more detail on how to design a statewide freight model? Do you have any examples?
No. I know a number of states have freight models. We have a statewide model. I know one of our, I noticed from your attendees list we have someone there, someone on the, the participants that could get you more information in that. And I would put that out on the list serve that to find out which states do have statewide freight models and I think it's a role technical question. If that person sends me the information, I will get them connected to the right person at Ohio DOT that could answer it.
And Eloise Freeman-Powell let me know there is information on that on the FHWA Freight Planning web site and the freight professional development web site and I'll put up the FPD web site in a moment. Eric, did you want to add anything?
We have a statewide truck model as a traditional four-step model, and I think it was created by taking the, way back when, commodities flow data, translating that into major fees and we added special generators for, but I guess what right to add was we had to possibly enhance our existing model or go for a now model, when we really sat down with it, we realized we didn't have a clear picture of what we wanted the tool to be able to answer. Before we go there route of deciding what we're going to do with the money for enhancing or coming up with a new model, we're going to go through the exercise, listing down what do we want this model to do, what do we need the model to do and explore the different options out there. There's commodity-based models, traditional four-step models, a whole host of things to do. It's going to be constrained by your time and money and what you need for minimum functionality out of it.
And if I could, this is Tony Furst at Federal Highways. We're putting together the freight model improvement program and we're going have a national conference and south conduct, concert with TRB in the summer of '06. So we're gearing up for, putting together a web site for freight model improvement and then we're going to culminate in a conference with TRB at the summer meeting in '06. We're working along those lines as well.
Okay. Suzann, next question is: how many freight-specialized people are currently in the Ohio DOT and what is the target number?
We don't have any specific individual that is totally devoted to doing freight. We have probably got six people that do freight as part of their job. There is no target number. Currently leadership decided we're not going to create a freight office or a single point of contact that was a decision, a leadership decision. The feel is, from my perspective, the more freight, people understanding it and working in it, having it as one of their priorities and understanding freight, the better. Does that answer the question specifically?
I think so. Eric, if you want to answer that from the New Jersey perspective as well.
We have within our bureau, there is four, we have a freight service bureau and a maritime bureau and some of what they do is freight and some of which is others, but I think as Suzann just said, it's important, and our goal is to get freight information out to all the folks here at DOT, not just people that are with the freight specialist. We're fortunate in that we do have a group. We would love to expand it wherever we can. We're supported by other partnerships and things. Probably the total number is about the same. Really, the focus should be on how do you get the information you do have, even if it was one person out to people that do need it.
Thank you. Suzann, the next question is: which six states is Ohio working with on the multistate corridor study?
We call it the Midwest freight corridor study initiative and we're doing this with SPR funds, with several universities - the University of Wisconsin, University of Toledo, University of Illinois at Chicago, so, obviously, we have Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. A lot of what we're doing is more than just studying that particular corridor. We're building relationships with states that a lot of our freight flows in the Midwest are Midwestern freight flows. We're big, our biggest trading partners are within the Midwest and Canada. Canada has participated in some of the meetings. We've had wonderful dialogues. We've brought the university in, so we're starting to educate students, people are often saying there is no freight training program. The fact that we used the university researchers who are trying to educate young modelers and young engineers and planning students and business students, about freight, so I think it's done more than just been a study of a corridor in terms of benefit to the six states and Canada that have been participating.
And are there any specific guidelines in Ohio used to determine if a project is benefiting freight?
You know, I don't think I could name one specific guideline. We have many, many factors that we use, like many states, many performance measures, safety is always a big issue and congestion. We always look to those factors. We just completed a year ago a statewide long-range plan and have identified all the big problems and projects around the state. We have been able to identify some of our major bottlenecks in the state. The bottlenecks that I showed on the slides are bottlenecks for freight. So what I said before was good for passenger are good for freight when you talk the highway system. We've just written the RFP. We haven't advertised it yet, a railroad bottleneck study. Which we'll look at how we can benefit both systems which come of the understanding that freight just doesn't travel on the roadways but travels on multiple systems. So, I am hoping I am answering the questions in a little bit of a round about way.
I think so. And you mentioned, railroads. There was a question related to railroad projects, how are candidate highway railroad grade-crossing projects prioritized and what is the current backlog?
Well, we've got all the ones we're going to do, prioritized already. We did a statewide analysis. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of how we decide, we consider how many cars and the level of congestion and the sort of standard highway problem design, decision-making process of safety and congestion and how long something was delayed and the need to spread the projects throughout the state. There was a special, separate group of people that focused on this and we have our MPOs engaged and we had a individual at the DOT whose job it was for a concentrated period of time to sort of do a statewide analysis and prioritize it.
And what we might do is pose some of the sections to the list serve that would give you opportunity to go into more detail.
I want to mention something related to the last two questions. When we started the statewide freight plan, we thought we would be able to dove into all the different management information systems to drive decisions at the agencies, and we have since realized we have our hands full in terms of trying to come up with specific recommending as we want to do. One of the pieces of work that is going to be part of rollout and implementation is going back and systematically take a look at information systems, as well as things like check lists and other stuff that the department uses day in, day out, and make sure that freight is in there explicitly. That's going to be an activity we engage in.
Okay, thank you, Eric.
And for both Eric and Suzann, does either New Jersey or Ohio have a formal multimodal or intermodal division? Eric, if you want to go ahead go first.
Well, I mean, we are the, our bureau, and there are within DOT, essentially freight is handled, within any DOT, freight is in three areas. We have a maritime sec, a freight service section, and freight services, the way to think about, they're more immediate projects and shorter-term things and freight planning, which, is longer-term, where I am at, and organizationally we're not always under the same, the same structure under one person. We do meet and collaborate. Effectively, we can function together as it relates to freight issues.
What about Ohio, Suzann?
If you look at our organization chart, you're not going to see any kind of intermodal office. They used to have one and they reorganized and reorganized and what has happened is that we all know each other and work together. There a separate rail commission and we work with them and there is a, the airports are handled by a different group and the water port authorities, so I think it's more of an informal form of communications going on and everybody seemed to play nice together and bring each other in on all of the specific studies and coordinate and cooperate. I would say it's like-minded people that tend to seek each other out even in big bureaucratic organizations and whenever they have a project they're working on or a study or an idea or concept, we all tend to include each other on whatever advisory committees we have, or whatever discussions and so in spite of not having a formal office, intermodal approaches do happen and it's important to note that our Director is very much an advocate of understanding freight and looking from a system's approach at the entire transportation system and because of that, it's, freight has worked in Ohio even without a specific individual in charge.
Penn DOT has an interesting program that some people may want to explore. They have an intermodal coordinator's program where a specific name is and ask and they developed a end readable training program to take information how to think about freight and apply it out into the field and the field offices. I'll throw that out to people who want to supplier that.
That's helpful. One of our attendees is looking into a study on how to form an intermodal division and is looking for information. That will be helpful.
I think Minnesota DOT -- also a really good structure. About 80 people working in the freight section of their DOT.
And this is also for both Suzann and Eric. What kind of things are effective in getting other departments within the state DOT and other state government agencies excited about planning for freight? Eric, if you want to go first.
For us, the approach is pretty simple. I look at my retail days. What is in it for them? You have to understand what are the goals and objectives of the agency and make the link between how freight and thinking about freight or promoting freight helps meet the goals, whether it's promoting economic development or developing a -- in the community or making jobs or a lot of fright projects include services. It's really trying to find that. Approaching it that way.
You can say that and money.
Okay, thank you. We have sort of a hypothetical question here. This is for both of you. Imagine someone walked into a room with ten million dollars in a briefcase and instructed the money could be used only on the most cost-effective solutions to benefit good movement and the public. Do states have a list of key potential strategies? Eric, if you want to go first.
That's a good question. I would say let's first have the person come in with the money and we can have the discussion. I mean we do have through NJDOT, a capitol investment strategy coming out each year, outlining what the department needs are, what the priority goals are and that comes straight through our commissioner here, of which freight is an input to that in the section, but when you're talking about total needs and total priorities, there is a, you know, there is more than just freight out there. Freight competes for the other users and the other modes there. Is a tunnel they want to build that is going to connect passenger service from New Jersey into New York and you can imagine that is expensive, you know, and you get projects like that and they compete. We have major bridges which we need, which help cars and trucks traveling down and they're huge big-ticket items. So, you know, that does come together, at least within our DOT through the capitol investment strategy where they try to rationalize all the needs and prioritize what needs to be done.
I'm not sure that I can add anything too different. There are all kinds of unmet needs and if you look at the choke points of it or the safety problems or whatever issue you're going to prioritize in the state, I'm not sure that you're going to have a whole lot of different problems or priorities that are a problem for freight that aren't also, a problem that we recognize in some other way as being a choke point or a safety point. The one issue that may come up, might be that intermodal connection that we have, in fact, looked at those in conjunction with our many other, as long as it's on the NHS. We looked with that together with all of our other problems, if you will, throughout the state and they're prioritized what is in it. We have many more problems and needs than we have dollars and we've got lists and lists of priorities and we probably just do the next one down on the list.
The next question is for Eric. Will your freight Council report be available to everybody when it's completed?
If you go to the web site there is a recap for the Logistics Council. You can find that. It might be one tree up or one tree down, but there is a Logistics couple report that cam down talking about the recommendations. The next version of that that gets published really will just fill in things we have been doing to move forward on that. So if you wanted to see a list of the recommendations as the proposed next steps, that is already done. We're in the process of moving forward on them. Like I said, the next one will just capture the progress we have made.
Okay. And next question also for you, Eric, can you say more about New Jersey DOT's work with the state office of smart growth on smart warehousing. Are there incentives in place and does it seem this can help reduce and slow traffic, the growth and finally, are you running into environmental justice concerns
Smart growth, smart warehousing. Our work is continuing to evolve. With DOT we have a lot of data layers we developed for the freight plan as it relates to warehousing likes and things like that, and we're continuing to have conversations with them about what is this going to mean for them in their own work. When they come up with the state plan, it goes through what we have, called a cross-acceptance process, meaning the plan gets endorsed by counties and municipalities themselves. And in that process of the locals taking a look at the plan, thinking about what it might mean, that is really where we're looking to integrate the freight information so that from the freight information so that from the grassroots up, freight is a consideration on the table. Most of our focus has been on trying to figure out how to take the information we have and get it into a form at that can be useful for those locals through that cross acceptance process. Some of it, too, we're waiting for the draft of the plan and the recommendations to all be final and done. We kind of need to know where we want to go for some of these before we can take all of the, take that collaboration to the fullest extent. But we have been working with them on that, and like I said before, the focus is really on that process which gets approval. The state plan first. That was probably an incomplete answer. I'm sorry. I'm taking a look at that again when I read the list of questions and try to provide more information.
No, that's perfect.
I think there was second part of that, too.
There was a question, are you running into environmental justice concerns?
I mean part of -- yes, there are issues in terms of environmental justice in a state as densely populated as New Jersey, that's going to be true for every project, whether it's freight or passenger or whatever. So that is something that needs to be considered. As we would with any project. There are some areas, let's say in and earn the ports where an environmental justice a factor. But I recall, I think it was a map from John Hummer's presentation where it was talking about more detail of development and sites in the report in the warehouse uses and they overlaid the opportunity sites on top of, instead of the port way alignment, it was showing where there is unemployment in the area, and it was a pretty good relationship so that there was an opportunity even though there are impacts as it relates to freight, to actually meet the local economy and make things better in the area. South Jersey Port Corporation, in Camden, there are ongoing conversations with the locals about freight is a good neighbor, and how expansion of the port can exist and in a community that is troubled. So those things, I don't think there is a general statewide answer to that. It needs to be a consideration as we move forward on any particular project.
Okay, and as Eric mentioned before, you can get to all the presentations and recordings from past talking freight seminars, including the one where John Hummer spoke through the freight planning web site We still have about ten minutes left and that's all the questions typed in, what I'm going to do is open up the phone lines so you can get questions over the phone if anyone has questions they would like to ask over the phone. Ann Marie, if we can do that.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to ask an audio question, press the star followed by one on your touch-tone telephone. If your question is answered or you would like to withdraw the question, please press star followed by a two. I'll pause for a moment as questions queue up.
Actually, I think I did miss one question here, which I will go ahead and ask that now. If you want to ask over the phone, go ahead and do that. Question is for Suzann. The question is: the influence of commodity value and prioritizing projects is interesting. How does Ohio DOT take into account the importance of low-value commodities that are intermediate elements in the supply chain but are vital to end products, for example, coal?
I didn't mean to imply that that's the only factor. We try to understand the value to our economy so we can choose between project a and project b. Coal which, is a major southeastern Ohio and a lot of the commodity of the Ohio river and the Cleveland area with steel mills and the river with power plants is based on coal. I'm not sure if the value is as much as the type of commodity that is important to us because the, you can -- we know along the I-75 corridor it's called automotive alley, and if we're trying to help support our automotive industry, we know that projects in that area are along I-75, which flow on that help it. I did not mean to imply that we are only taking high-cost items because, frankly, those high-cost, a lot of the high-cost items go by air and not by truck. Certainly not by train. Does that answer that? We know that the coal trucks are carrying something heavier. The roads are impacted by the heavier loads. We have worked with the rail commission to identify short line projects that could potentially take the trucks off the road and we have been successful in that, so there is a -- it's that understanding of the data and then being able to come up with creative approaches to improving the efficiency of the system. That is important. Not the absolute value of the project. Or the commodities going through there. Although that issue does come up with all the time, so we need to know the answer, you know where is the high-value stuff going or what's the value of fixing the, our director has often asked us if I fixed this interchange versus interchange a versus enter change b. What is the value of the freight flowing through there and what difference has it made to the economy when you're caught between two projects, if you will.
The next question, before we get to the phone lines, Suzann are the railroad bottleneck studies available to DOTs used as a model to create one to the own state?
We have an RFP and talked with the railroads if the RFP is acceptable to them. We plan on advertising it August 1. We have talked with the rail companies about what consultants they would like to see this because they, they are pretty fussy about who does the analysis so they would accept the analysis. When it does get done, maybe a year from now, we always post things like that on our web page. Yes, it will be available.
Thank you. Now, we can go to the phone lines if we have any questions there.
Your first audio question comes from Thomas, please proceed.
Yeah, I'm sorry. Was the one who just posted that on the net. You answered it, that question very well. I was not sure about how that, the commodity value had influenced that process, but your answer was a good one. Thank you very much.
Again, ladies and gentlemen, if you do wish to ask a question through the phone lines, it's star one. And your next questions and question comes from Steve Winkleman. Please proceed.
My question is, I guess, a question about the smart warehousing and it strikes me the issue of figuring out how the private sector can help the private sector work more efficiently is critical, and I guess I'm curious with your experience and Logistics couple, were things obvious, coming from the mid-Atlantic rail study where they said this piece is going to be important for us for improving the flows or allow us to have better supply chain optimization. Were there sort of obvious places to plug in to look at existing studies and list and agree upon, let's move this up the priority list in terms of projects?
I am trying to think of that as a question. We, we do, I didn't mean to imply that we don't try to give some priorities. I mean taking a look at the relationship between the warehouses as it relates to the core facilities is important. And when we did Portway and Portway Extensions, those studies, that was an element that was there. We have work going on that is taking a look in and around exit 8a off the New Jersey turnpike, for example, where we're using a university research center to work with the locals and help take a look at the build-out zoning, what the implications are for the warehousing going on there. And thinking about how things like extended hours or shuttles or those types of thing might be used to make those businesses succeed and at the same time have benefits by decreasing the truck trips during peak hours on the highways.
There are locations around the state that are I guess more important than others as it relates to warehousing. And part of what we're doing, too, in terms of working with the smart growth is they're trying to change the mind shift. You have seen maps that might have information like aquifer. You may have seen maps of an endangered species. Where are the maps talking about warehousing clusters. Its critical and it's important, you know, to the economy and needs to be considered as such. Those are the types of things that we're in the process of doing.
There are no further audio questions at this time.
Okay. Thank you. Well, it's about 2:30, so I think we're going to go ahead and close out the seminar. We well a lot of good question comes in today, what we're going to do is probably put some of the questions up on the freight planning LISTSERV to generate more discussion on the topics. If you have reports or studies that are relevant to the topic and you would like to share with everybody, please go ahead and send them to me. I will include them with the follow up materials. Again, this seminar was recorded and will be available within the next week and I'll send out a notice to everybody to let you know when the recording is available. One another reminder I had mentioned this in the last seminar, if you participated and for those of you new to the series, FHWA is planning for the 2006 seminar series and would like your input for topics. These seminars are meant to help you do your job better and so FHWA values your input. If you have an idea for a topic, please send me an email describing the idea as well as any potential speakers that you know of.
The next seminar will be held on July 20, and is titled "Notable Practices on Private/Public Sector Cooperation on Projects." If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to visit the Talking Freight Web Site and sign up for this seminar as well as the seminars through December of this year. I also encourage you to join the Freight Planning LISTSERV if you have not already done so.
Thank you to everybody in attendance and thank you to Suzann and Eric for two great presentations. I hope everybody enjoys the rest of the day.