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Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Symoun, and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Case Study on Promoting Public and Private Sector Freight Collaboration.
Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.
Before we get started on today's seminar, I wanted to remind everyone that U .S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the establishment of a National Freight Advisory Committee on Thursday, February 14, 2013, and is currently soliciting nominations for membership. Detailed instructions on the NFAC and how to submit nominations are available on the web site linked from the slide showing. The NFAC will provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary aimed at improving the national freight transportation system in the United States, including: implementation of the freight transportation requirements of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, establishment of the National Freight Network, development of a National Freight Strategic Plan, development of strategies to help States implement State Freight Advisory Committees and State Freight Plans, and development of measures of conditions and performance in freight transportation, development of freight transportation investment, data, and planning tools and legislative recommendations. Nominations must be received on or before midnight on March 21, 2013.
Turning back to Talking Freight, today we'll have four presenters: Bill Gardner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation; Alisa Fine of the USDOT Volpe Center; Connie Kozlak of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council; and Dave Damm-Luhr of the USDOT Volpe Center.
Bill Gardner is Director of the Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations in the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He is responsible for the Department's freight, rail, waterway and motor carrier programs. Bill has 33 years of multi-modal transportation planning, operations and management experience. He has a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Alisa Fine is a Community Planner with USDOT's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. Ms. Fine supports Federal, state, and local transportation agencies in developing guidance and tools for transportation professionals, particularly as related to freight transportation, uses of geospatial technologies, and scenario planning. She was selected to attend the I-95 Corridor Coalition's 2010 Freight Academy in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Ms. Fine holds an M.A. in geography from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a B.A. in sociology from Vassar College.
Connie Kozlak is the manager of transportation planning for the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities. She has spent over thirty five years working on all aspects of transportation systems planning, including highways, transit, airports, bicycles and pedestrians, at the Council and as a consultant with BRW. She graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul and studied urban planning at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. She is a member of a member of American Institute of Planners (AICP), Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and the Women's Transportation Seminar.
Dave Damm-Luhr, a specialist in organizational systems performance at USDOT's Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, is frequently called in by colleagues and clients to help design creative approaches to complex issues, and to bring together stakeholders with diverse viewpoints to reach common ground. He completed a Ph.D. in applied behavioral science from MIT, a Masters in Regional Planning from UNC at Chapel Hill, and a BA from the University of Michigan.
Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. If we run out of time and are unable to address all questions we will attempt to get written responses from the presenters to the unanswered questions.
The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. The presentations will also be available online within the next few weeks, along with a recording and a transcript. I will notify all attendees once these materials are posted online.
One final note: Talking Freight seminars are eligible for 1.5 certification maintenance credits for AICP members. In order to obtain credit for today's seminar, you must have logged in with your first and last name or if you are attending with a group of people you must type your first and last name into the chat box. I have included more detailed instructions in the file share box on how to obtain your credits after the seminar. Today's webinar is not yet available on the AICP web site but I will send out a notice once it is.
For those who are not AICP members, but would like to receive PDH credits for this webinar, please note that FHWA does not formally offer PDFs. However, it may be possible to receive PDHs for your participation in Talking Freight if you are able to self-certify. To possibly receive PDHs, please download the agenda from the file download box and submit this agenda to your respective licensing agency. FHWA does not guarantee the licensing agency will accept Talking Freight for PDHs and it is up to the attendee to discuss this with the licensing agency. FHWA will not provide anything other than the agenda. Attendees will have to self-certify that they attended each seminar; FHWA will not provide a certificate or verification of attendance.
Finally, I encourage everyone to please also download the evaluation form from the file share box and submit this form to me after you have filled it out.
We're now going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is Case Study on Promoting Public and Private Sector Freight Collaboration. As a reminder, if you have questions during the presentation please type them into the chat box and they will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar. Our first presenter will be Bill Gardner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation
Very good! Thank you, Jennifer. Hello, everyone and happy spring. I certainly hope it's warmer where you are, compared to what Minnesota is like today.
Today, we want to provide you with overview of freight planning initiative in the Twin Cities Metropolitan region, which includes Minnesota's two largest cities: Minneapolis and St. Paul. This is intended to contribute to the national dialogue going on about freight planning, as did Monday's Talking Freight about state freight planning. We hope it can serve as an example to others who are undertaking similar efforts. The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council, which is the Metro Planning Organization for the region, jointly initiated this project because of the increasing prominence of freight issues. We knew it was very important for the DOT and the MPO to work closely together on freight, as well as engaging a variety of other Stakeholders. We contracted with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, which is a fee for service part of. USDOT, to develop the framework for the project, and guide us through a very structured strategic planning process. That process challenged us to think hard about all dimensions of freight planning, and helped point us in the right direction with respect to the development of a regional strategy and agenda. Before we go any further, I'd like to thank the folks you are going to hear from today including: Dave Damm-Luhr and Alisa Fine from Volpe and Connie Kozlak from Met Council, and also Steve Elmer of her staff, and Matthew Pahs of my staff at the DOT, for managing the project.
MnDOT and Met Council, as they are called, have a long history of interagency coordination for transportation planning and programming. A lot of that coordination is legislatively prescribed at either the state or federal level. The interagency work we've done has focused primarily on highways and to some extent, public transit. While Freight is addressed in our policy documents and long-term plans for both of the agencies, specific freight issues and projects in the Twin Cities have been addressed mainly on an ad-hoc basis, rather than in a systematic or strategic way; that is something we wanted to try and change. In addition, over the past 6 or 7 years since completing our first ever statewide freight plan, my office at MnDOT has been conducting regional freight studies around the state -- a total of 6 in all. The intent of these studies has been to better understand some of the very diverse regional economies in Minnesota, and dig deeper into the freight transportation issues in each region. The Twin Cities initiative is very much in alignment with those studies and overall effort. The Twin Cities though, because of its scale, economy, and the complexity, have a context that's quite different from greater Minnesota.
There are a number of high visibility multi-modal freight issues in the Twin Cities that have gotten a lot of attention in the past few years. The threat of Asian carp moving up the Mississippi River in to Minnesota's water ways, has resulted in a number of our public officials calling for the closure of the lock and dam system in Minneapolis, as the only sure fire way to stop the Asian carp. That lock and dam system is the head of commercial navigation for the Mississippi River. Forcing the barge company down river, would result in most of that freight being carried by trucks. This would increase cost to shippers and would add 55,000 truck trips to our road system annually. The railroads are operating unit-trains of oil tanker cars from Canada and North Dakota oil fields through the Twin Cities to destinations beyond. They are also carrying frac sand in the opposite direction back to the oil fields. This is creating environmental concerns, along with the normal types of complaints related to increased train traffic in urban locations. We have planned light rail, commuter rail, and high speed passenger rail services that potentially could conflict with the existing freight rail system; including the relocation of freight trains through communities that really don't want them. When we talk with the freight industry around the state, the number one issue for many shippers and carriers is Twin Cities traffic congestion, and getting their trucks into or through the Cities. According to the Texas transportation institute in 2011, there were 3 million hours of truck delay due to congestion in the Twin Cities, at a cost of $232 million. Each of these, and a number of other freight issues, has been and are being studied independently. The regional freight initiative was an opportunity to review these issues, evaluate how they might affect each other, and how they impact the overall Metropolitan transportation system. The larger context of the federal context of the MAP-21 legislation, which took effect last year, with significant policy and planning for freight, has further strengthened the impetus for on-going collaboration with a focus on freight performance. Finally, whatever we came up with, we wanted it to be action oriented. We didn't just want a study with recommendations; we wanted to initiate a commitment to freight and a process for working together, especially among the key planning agencies to jointly pursue, follow on projects, and to establish a planning approach whereby freight would not be forgotten.
This has been primarily a synthesizing and strategic effort, rather than a lot of original analysis of individual freight issues. We really wanted to make sure the ship was pointed in the right direction, and that we established priorities before we augured in too deep on any particular project or issue. You can see some of the specific elements presented today. We put a lot of effort into something we call The Story of Freight, which you'll hear about next. People have said "if you don't tell your story, others will tell it for you". In freight, sometimes that's true, but often the story of freight is never told at all; we thought it was important to do so. We also took a look at the Metropolitan transportation planning process, which is very complex, to try to figure out how freight considerations could be introduced into that process. We also looked at freight performance management, not just to meet MAP-21 requirements, but to advance our own asset and risk based approach to transportation planning and programming. And finally, to talk about where we are today, where we're going, and some of the lessons we've learned. There were some other valuable activities we conducted which we don't have time to go into detail today, but they included a FHWA sponsored peer exchange and a future flows workshop with our industry partners conducted by MIT; both were very useful for this initiative. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Alisa Fine.
Great, thanks so much, Bill. The purpose of the story was to compile a wide variety of freight topics specific to the region in a single document, and also to show why freight movement is critical to establishing and maintaining the region as an economic hub for both the upper Midwest as well as the nation. The story was influenced by two different things. First, a national freight story that was put out in 2008 by Federal Highway's Freight Management and Operations office. This document provided an overview of the national freight system, but also served to emphasize the important links between freight and economic development. The story was also reinforced by conversations we had with other states and metro areas experiencing similar challenges and issues as the Twin Cities. These conversations emerged as a focal point of the peer exchange that was part of this overall effort, which Bill mentioned a minute ago. During the peer exchange, we got the sense of how important it can be to have a document that shows why freight matters in clear terms that a broad audience can understand.
We had several objectives for the Twin Cities story of freight. First, we wanted to provide an overview of the region's freight system and how it developed over time to make the region a vibrant place to live. We also wanted to provide a picture of how freight moves into, through, and out of the region and also to show examples of how MnDOT and Met Council are already working together, along with the private sector and other stakeholders to improve goods movement. Finally, we wanted to identify opportunities to be able to work more closely together to better highlight freight considerations as part of existing planning and decision making.
Overall, our intent in the story was to establish a common ground, or starting point, for further discussion about the region's freight system.
To put together the story, we compiled information from a wide array of sources. We looked at existing MnDOT and Met Council policy documents, including the Met Council's transportation policy plan, MnDOT statewide freight plan, and some of the regional studies Bill mentioned a minute ago. We compiled data on freight flows from the analysis framework, as well as other sources such as the Census Bureau, and Bureau of Transportation Statistics. We conducted interviews with several private sector businesses to develop profiles of particular types of products, such as grocery products that a broad audience could relate to and were familiar with. These profiles provided region specific "mini" case studies that helped illustrate particular freight supply chains. And finally, throughout the process, we worked with MnDOT and Met Council to review and discuss the story.
In the next couple of slides, I'll share some of the content from the story itself focusing on introducing the region and its freight system. The region is comprised of 7 counties, as shown on the slide, including the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The region is a major population center in the US, with about 3 million people in 2010. The region is considered part of the Great Lakes megaregion, which is an area that includes the cities of Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis.
The region is an important economic hub, both nationally and for the upper Midwest. In fact, it has the third largest economy in the Great Lakes megaregion, and its gross metro product totaled $207 billion in 2011, which established the Twin Cities as the nation's 13th largest metro-economy. The Twin Cities is also ranked 10th in the country for value of exports, and ranks highly for transportation infrastructure. The region has one of the highest concentrations of global businesses in the country; it's home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, which is the most per capita nationally. Minneapolis also ranks 5th nationally for ability to attract and retain a strong business environment.
While the region is not a major freight gateway, like some of the coastal ports and border crossings, the region is a major freight throughway for goods being shipped through the region to other areas of the country, or international markets including Canada. The region is also a hub for many freight supply chains including those that start and end in the upper Midwest.
Freight really helped make the Twin Cities what it is today. The region originally developed around river commerce. As Bill noted, it's located at the head of the commercially navigable section of the Mississippi river. Early on in its history in the 1800s, the region became a flour milling center to take advantage of easy access to the water and barge transportation. Over time, many businesses located in the region to take advantage, not just of water transportation, but also the developing rail system to transport bulk goods. Many of these businesses have since grown into international corporations as a result of this transportation access.
Over time, the region's strategic location along the river, as well as its proximity to strong railroad networks, helped it grow into an important area for trade and transportation throughout the upper Midwest. Today, the region has a very well developed freight network comprised of multiple roads that include rail, barge, highway, air, and pipeline.
A wide range of products moves into, out of, and through the region on this system. Some of the region's most important imports include: grains from the Midwest states, electronics, paper and base metals from domestic and international locations. The region is also an important exporter of medical devices, and relies particularly on air transportation to move these devices quickly to their destinations. In terms of through products, a large amount of coal from Montana is moved through the region. Overall, about half are attributed through imports, about a third are attributed to exports, and a smaller number of movements are attributed to freight that originates and terminates within the region.
Trucks transport the majority of the region's freight, about two-thirds of it in terms of tonnage and value. Comparatively, little freight by value and tonnage is carried by water, rail, and air modes, although these modes are critical for particular industries. For example, many agriculture products and aggregates and are carried by rail, while medical devices rely on air transportation. Both the tonnage and value of freight moved in the region are expected to grow significantly by 2030.
The region has very strong freight networks, but there are challenges that affect the use, operation, and maintenance of the freight system. Bill has already mentioned a few of these challenges, Connie will provide more detail in her presentation, and I will provide an introduction to a few of them. As in other areas of the country, congestion is an issue in this region. In fact, the Twin Cities recently experienced an increase in congestion at significant cost. The anticipated growth of freight flows is also expected to place additional pressures on the freight system, potentially leading to more congestion. In terms of land use conflicts, I'll point to a brief example. Some of the region's rail yards are located in urban areas where other land uses, such as residential and commercial development, may be desirable. This can lead to increased competition for land, and potentially limits the areas in which freight facilities can be located, including rail yards as well as the expansion of manufacturing and warehousing facilities. Other national issues may also impact the Twin Cities freight system, which could lead to increasing costs, unreliability, and potential freight route changes, among other possible affects. These issues could cause funding uncertainties, rising fuel costs, energy concerns, and aging infrastructure.
While the story presented a picture of the Twin Cities region and freight flows, another very important element was to document the current processes and procedures that MnDOT and Met Council have in place now to support freight planning and decision making. This slide illustrates some of those processes and where there might be opportunities to better highlight freight considerations. These different stages generally correlate with the overall transportation planning process.
For example, when identifying transportation needs, MnDOT and Met Council can work together to establish where there are freight specific needs and then develop policies, priorities and projects which serve to advance freight interests. MnDOT and Met Council could focus on articulating where there are freight related benefits of other transportation projects, and on measuring and documenting these benefits.
In the next couple of slides, I'll present overall lessons learned that emerged from our development of the Twin Cities story. The first lesson learned is collaboration. To address the region's freight challenges and plan for future transportation needs, MnDOT and Met Council need to collaborate and coordinate. Not only with each other, but also with cities, counties, the private sector, and others in order to identify needs and evaluate possible solutions. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is especially important, because private sector organizations own and operate the majority of the region's freight system, as in other areas of the country. However, the public sector does have a very important role to play in terms of planning for the future of the system, setting overall policy directions, funding projects that benefit goods movement, and even maintaining infrastructure.
While collaborating with the private sector is crucial, we learned sometimes it can be difficult to reach out to these stakeholders. We encountered some challenges when developing the business profiles for the story. The intent of these profiles, as I mentioned, was to help provide region specific mini case studies, and generally try to make freight more personal for the reader, and show why a general reader should care about freight. We worked closely with several private businesses on this effort, conducting interviews to draft the profiles. However, in the end, several folks who we talked to changed their minds about wanting to include the profiles in the story due to some sensitivity about sharing information about a broad audience. Ultimately, we included one profile of Supervalu, a grocery retailer. We learned it is important to be straightforward about how you plan to use any information being provided by the private sector. And to be cognizant that many private sector stakeholders work on much shorter time frames. And finally, we learned it's important to be sensitive to business's needs to keep some info proprietary.
The final lesson learned is that it can be helpful to expand what constitutes a definition of a freight project. Many transportation projects might not be called a freight project, but they do have important benefits for goods movement. Highlighting these benefits is critical for agencies to be able to draw attention to the work they are already doing to support freight. We strived in the story to call out examples of where MnDOT and Met Council were doing this. Just as a quick example, the region has designated highway lanes called MnPASS/HOT lanes, which allow some smaller commercial vehicles to buy into the HOT lane. This can free up capacity to allow for less congested movement along the other lanes. Met Council's transportation policy plan calls for developing a system of managed lanes that is similar to the MnPASS/HOT lanes. This system is not based on freight congestion points but these managed lanes will facilitate truck movement and therefore can be recognized as a potential initiative that can have collateral benefit for freight.
Ultimately, the freight story led to several outcomes important for the Twin Cities region. The story compiled information that had previously existed in different sources, and served to document the importance of freight to the region's economic development and quality of life. It established a common starting point for discussions about the region's freight system. Finally, it identified opportunities for where MnDOT and Met Council could make freight better stand out in existing processes.
Just before turning things over to Connie, I do want to mention the story of freight is available online. We will show the URL at the end of this presentation, but I believe the link was included in your registration emails. We certainly encourage you to visit this web site to get more information.
Thank you Alisa, this is Connie. I would like to start out by building a little bit on what Alisa said to you about the story of freight, and the planning context here in the Twin Cities. The Metropolitan Council is the MPO for the region. While every MPO is unique, ours is more unusual than most. We are not a COG, we were created by the legislature in 1967 to plan for the orderly and economic development of the seven county area.
As you can see on the map, everything that looks yellow is the more urbanized portion and the green is the more rural areas. I did want to emphasize that, although we do the overall regional planning, many of the planning and governing powers still reside with the cities. They do their own comp plans, zoning, and plans for local facilities. We do this planning through something we call the Metro-Development Guide. State law requires us to prepare this. It is actually a series of plans or chapters of the guide, typically extending out about 20 years. The one's that's called the Regional Development Framework is the overall land use plan for the region. We are in the process of updating that right now, it gets done every 10 years, a few years after we have the census data available. And following that, we also need to prepare four system plans for transportation, airports, parks and sewers. Another thing that is somewhat unique here in the Twin Cities, is we have a mandatory land planning act that every city and county within the seven county area, must update their comprehensive plan. They must have a plan and update it every 10 years, and it has to be consistent with those system plans. As the MPO, we actually review those plans, and make sure they are consistent. This gives us some opportunities to work with the cities and counties that are a little unique.
Although, as I mentioned, we are designated the MPO, the council structure is a little unique. The council members are appointed by the governor; they are not local elected officials. So because of that, we also had established in state law a transportation advisory board (TAB) to the council, which is where we get that local official input. I won't go into the whole complexities of this board's role, but if you are interested you can check on the metro council web site. We have something called the Transportation Planning Guide if anyone is interested. We do have modal representation on that board as well. Also, because of our MPO decision making structure, it may be easier for us to add a freight member to our technical advisory board, than it might be for many MPOs that are set up as a COG. I do believe our freight representative, and I can recall three of them, I think over the last 12 years or so, has always been a trucker or a representative of the trucking industry.
Our traditional freight planning here in the Twin Cities has been to prepare a long range plan. As I mentioned, or as Bill mentioned earlier, MNDOT had a significant freight office in their statewide office or central office. But prior to working with Volpe, the Metro Council had a pretty nominal role in involving freight in overall transportation planning. We have freight chapters in our long range plan, which is called the transportation policy plan. It acknowledged and mapped out modes and terminals, but that was about the extent of it. We do have a rather rigorous regional solicitation process that's run by our TAB to select projects for STP and CMAC. Freight was one of the criteria we used for project selection, but only one. The Metro Council does participate in the Minnesota freight advisory committee, a statewide committee sponsored by MNDOT which is made up of public and private entities. Although it does have statewide representation, it does have a fairly large membership from the metro area. Those from greater Minnesota have pretty strong opinions about metro area issues, since many of them are using metro area intermodal and port facilities, or, in the case of truckers, are impacted by freight when driving through the region. The only other thing I would like to mention is over the years we have done a number of special freight studies. You can see by the dates, they were pretty far between. We did look at barges way back in the 70s, and shortly after ISTEA was passed, we looked at our inter-modal rail facilities. We had three of them in the region, and they were all getting pretty crowded. We banded together with all the railroads to look at whether we might be able to come up with a common location. It did not pan out, but we did look into that. Most recently we worked with the airlines and the MSP international airport, for some sort of an off airport regional distribution center for air cargo. So, when we began working with MNDOT and Volpe, there were a number of reasons focusing on planning turned out to be a very productive way to promote collaboration between Met Council and MNDOT. Bill did mention why we got into this collaboration, the only thing I wanted to add is at the time we started this a couple years ago, we were expecting that the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU would put more emphasis on freight. We wanted to be prepared to respond to any new requirements or programs. We thought it was kind of timely to start taking a closer look at freight.
As Bill mentioned, we've had a pretty good relationship between MNDOT and the Met Council. I always thought that this was a normal way of doing business, but in talking to some of my MPO colleagues around the country, I understand the MPO and state DOT having a great relationship is probably more the exception than the rule. Even within MNDOT, there was some need to get everybody on the same page. MNDOT until recently had concentrated most of their freight planning in their central office, and the Metro Council has worked with MNDOT's metro division office, which was doing very little freight planning. It was necessary to get everybody on the same page. It was a bit of a learning curve to figure out what were the relevant planning processes. How freight got addressed and where there might be an opportunity to make freight a more explicit part of the process. So this chart, which I don't expect any of you to get a good look at this scale, is really meant to show the complexity of the process. A picture says a thousand words; this graph shows you the planning process between what MNDOT did in blue and green, and what Metro Council and the cities and counties do in the lower orange area. There are a lot of steps to identify plans, and to do our actual programming and TIP's. The little pink circles you see on here were all the opportunities we discovered where there might be an opportunity for additional freight criteria or some sort of freight considerations that could influence the process.
This is a little more simplified way of looking at things. Volpe helped us streamline this into the opportunity areas for collaboration, and then they helped us develop some action steps within each of those opportunities. For instance, in identifying needs where we talked about performing data collection and analysis, we all collect a little bit of data and it needs to get shared to figure out where the holes might be. One thing we discovered is although we have ADT counts for all of our highways that include heavy commercial traffic, we didn't have a very good grasp on truck movement data by hour, which is what you really need to consider when you are looking at where the congestion, which only occurs in the peak hours, impacts those trucks, and not how many of them are moving in the middle of the night. We had a number of steps that got outlined, and I just want to kind of going through a couple of the opportunities here before I turn it over to David.
These are some of the opportunities specifically within MNDOT between the central office and metro district. The central office is a valuable resource, as we do most of the freight planning work. They can be including more of that in the statewide multimodal plans, and developing more of the freight performance measures, which we can then all use for establishing freight criteria. MNDOT can work with the Metro Council to make sure those freight criteria and performance measures are things we can use in our long range MPO plan, which is what MNDOT is doing. In terms of criteria, again, as MNDOT develops a statewide highway investment plan, freight can be a stronger set of criteria in those plans in selecting projects both in the short range TIP, and 10 year highway investment plan. Also, in the MFAC or freight advisory committee, that group we think could be used affectively to provide input and feedback for the metro region, perhaps even setting up a subset of that group or related group that would focus on the metro area than statewide. We're hoping that group would help pull together the private sector data that could be shared with Metro Council and MNDOT to better identify freight needs.
Early on, I had mentioned when I started my presentation about the relationship between Metro Council, the seven counties, and 190 some local units of governments in the region. A couple quick points on that -- I think that if we get a stronger freight component in our long range regional plan, we will be able to direct the cities and counties to include a little bit more about freight in their local comprehensive plans. They could also be using some of our criteria and information to work on their programming in their CIPs for city and county. Also, we think TAB could be considering whether they want to be giving more weight to freight criteria when they are selecting STP projects through the regional solicitation process. So with that, I will turn it over to David.
Thanks a lot, Connie. One of the key action steps in the table that Connie showed us a few minutes ago was to develop performance measures for freight. As a first step in that direction we developed the framework that you are going to see today as a reference for MnDOT and Met Council, as they design the specifics of a strategy for improving the Twin Cities regional freight system. We left as a future step identifying a core set of measures and indicators, with which to focus in terms of data collection, analysis, as well as planning and policy applications related to freight. Such a core set of measures and indicators could be the basis for a dashboard or score card reference in managing the Twin Cities regional freight system, in the context of the freight issues Bill and Alisa mentioned and the planning processes Connie just described.
What you'll see here today is the starting place for getting to a dashboard or score card that's integrated into your planning processes. In addition to the other presenters this afternoon, I'd also like to acknowledge and thank the terrific help of Matt Pahs and Deanna Belden from MnDOT, Steve Elmer from Met Council, as well as my Volpe colleague, Scott Smith, for putting together the framework.
Why bother with performance management? Demand for freight and passenger transportation continues to increase much faster than our ability to provide new transportation facilities or even manage current ones. We can expect increased congestion and lower mobility, as well as degradation of safety, environmental and other factors by which we evaluate freight transportation quality in the absence of any concerted action.
As a result, freight performance measures and indicators become very important by enabling us to understand freight system problems better. At the same time, they help us generate more viable solutions to address root causes when we organize them in a framework for balancing competing goals and objectives, as well as setting priorities among alternative actions to resolve issues. Collectively, there's a lot of knowledge and intelligence available across and within participating organizations, which we certainly found in the Twin Cities region. The framework provides another means to promote collaboration and pulling knowledge and insight.
The key starting points for building the framework were existing planning and policy documents for MnDOT and Met Council. Most of them have since been updated, but they included the 2030 Transportation Policy Plan update for Met Council, the Draft Metro District Highway Investment Plan, MnDOT Statewide Transportation Policy Plan, and the Minnesota Statewide Freight Plan, plus the transportation result score card from 2009. We were very lucky MnDOT had a freight plan at all - one for the whole state with goals and objectives we could reference in extracting relevant measures and indicators. We also synthesized these documents to identify five strategic freight goals, which you see on the screen here. In respect to these five goals, we went back and forth between the documents that I mentioned and the summary report card from the NCFRP 10 report, until we got a version of the framework that seemed to match the particular situation in the Twin Cities region. We're very grateful to the authors of that NCFRP report for clearly laying out what's needed for a useful framework, and proposing a strong framework to use with different levels of details depending on the needs of the situation. I highly recommend having a look at that if you are interested in doing a deeper dive into performance management. For folks on this webinar, I especially recommended appendixes B and C since they are relevant to state DOTs and MPOs.
From the freight summary report card from the NCFR-10 Report, We started populating the table that you see here for all modes, and then highway, rail, air and water freight related modes. I'll go quickly down the rows here -- Safety corresponds to the freight safety measure, but also adds measures related to freight security. We found as we went through the five strategic goal areas, sometimes it was a close match to what the folks that put together the NCFRP report had, and other times it wasn't. Infrastructure preservation was an excellent match, and corresponds to the system condition measures. Mobility corresponds to freight demand and system efficiency where freight demand is an indicator of modal balance. While the system efficiency more directly focused on congestion, the accessibility is an interesting strategic goal for putting into the framework because there wasn't any obvious analog in the NCFRP 10 report. This focuses on economic competitiveness of the Twin Cities by looking at access between the Twin Cities and other markets. And finally, community environmental sustain ability had a pretty direct analog in the NCFRP report.
I'll go through specific examples to give you a flavor for what we came up with, but just keep in mind that we were thinking of indicators as trends affecting a mode's performance in terms of a goal, and providing early warning signals whereas measures were connected to a mode's performance regarding a goal. We found this to be an important distinction. In terms of the framework we viewed it as "successful" if (1) it was relevant to policy objectives; (2) data exist to support it and can be collected; and (3) the level of detail matches the actions considered.
First, let's have a look at safety and security. This particular one is focused on all modes, and you can see as you follow through in the next 6 slides, we have excerpted cells from the framework that should illustrate how this works. As Alisa mentioned, if you go to the link that Jennifer provided in the registration e-mail, where there is a brief summary of the project and links to the full report on the performance management framework (as well as selected other project reports), you can see the details of the whole table here.
In this example, we've got safety and security, and the next one focuses on infrastructure preservation, focusing indicators on the number of bridges and road with weight constrictions, as well as the number of railroad crossings on major truck routes.
Performance measures would be for bridge conditions on principal arterials, expressed by the percent considered poor, perceived pavement ride quality, that sort of thing.
Mobility -- since the dominant freight mode by a long shot in the Twin Cities region is related to trucks and highways, mobility seemed like a good one to use here. Indicators might be truck vehicle miles traveled and Ton-miles and dollar value carried. Measures would focus particularly on delays, clearance time, and that sort of thing. In terms of the next goal area, accessibility to key economic centers, we have the indicators and measures you can see on your slide. I wanted to also take a leaf from Steve Elmer's (of Met Council) presentation that he gave a couple years ago at an annual MFAC meeting. Steve pointed out, and it's applicable here, that an effective freight transportation system offers jobs and an important source of income for a large number of residents, helps keep businesses in the region, and attracts new industry business support. They need to move products or materials through and allow consumers to access products they need for everyday life. These are key, because if you are considering developing a performance management framework or system for a metropolitan region, such considerations are critical. In terms of mobility, the Twin Cities region, as Bill and others have pointed out, is very much is linked to water travel and freight, particularly agriculture and mining products. A lot of times on rivers near the Twin Cities these kinds of indicators and measures are important for indicating mobility. To close out the examples, we have one for community and environmental goals related to air, particularly around number of noise complaints per month, as well as emissions related to air freight. So why bother with freight performance management framework? We think what we have here is a starting place for the metro conversation that creates opportunities to build off existing agreements. As Met Council, for example currently updates its policy plan, the framework could definitely help structure that conversation about priorities and the strategic goals of the region in terms of freight.
One of the top priorities flagged was the need for improved data collection; no surprise there! The framework could be useful in thinking about priorities, among all possible places where better data could make a difference in the quality of public sector decision making.
We'd like to make a few observations about what we found when we were developing the framework. First of all, use what you have to the max. There are many pieces of the puzzle available, without huge amounts of effort. Take, for example, existing plan and policy documents. Secondly, anchor it in the region' strategic goals, essential to getting a credible and useful tool. Third, start where the need is greatest. Performance measures are typically used to assess the overall performance of transportation. With several additional considerations, they could also be used to assess and prioritize specific projects. For example, bringing measures down to the action level if safety at a particular intersection is being improved. The appropriate measure might be crashes at that intersection, not crashes statewide or region-wide. This could also be used to predict the impact of actions for a project related to mobility. It might be desirable to run the no build and build scenarios through a traffic flow model to assess mobility impacts. FHWA has published crash reduction factors that attempt to quantify the expected safety improvement from various actions. Fourth, we think it's important to embed freight into planning and priority setting. There are many opportunities for giving freight visibility in regional planning process.
Finally, although we're not set up for a round-table discussion today, we'd enjoy hearing from folks who have also developed a freight performance management framework or thinking of going in that direction - as well as from people that might have lessons learned about promoting freight in state DOT and MPO arenas. Feel free to contact anyone of us presenters and maybe at some point we can arrange a conference call to trade notes. Over to you, Bill.
Where are we today and where do we go from here? MnDOT/Met Council are currently focusing on the priority issues you see here. Based on the collaboration that we've had, and feedback we've gotten from stakeholders, you can see that a number of these issues have a significant land use component. Both Alisa and Connie talked about that a little bit. One of the big questions that has been raised, is how much industrial land does the region need? We need more analysis to be able to answer that question, and we also need to advance strategies for preserving what we deem to be regionally significant freight facilities and corridors. We need to more fully engage local government and see how they can more fully integrate freight needs into land use plans, their comprehensive plans and transportation plans, as well as when making individual zoning and development decisions. With respect to traffic congestion and truck mobility, we continue to work to identify opportunities to manage traffic in ways that benefit freight. Of course, there are general traffic strategies, such as MnPASS lanes that Alisa talked about, or improved incident clearance, that benefits all vehicles including trucks. There are also truck-specific strategies, such as designating or improving truck routes, or changing work zone designs to better accommodate large trucks, which the potential to either give freight an advantage, or not to be disadvantaging in some manner.
Our next steps, as our presenters have talked about, is better data and information for analysis. We realize we don't have enough information. For example, on truck movements in the metro area, accurate truck volumes are critical for understanding system performance and documenting bottlenecks. One project we have right now is to analyze truck GPS data available through FHWA. We need a better understanding of how traffic congestion affects truck travel time and reliability. Also, we are looking at our own truck count programs internally in order to improve them, both on the freeway system and on the arterial system. We've begun additional work on performance measures and documenting overall freight needs locally, but we're doing that in conjunction with our partners at the larger regional level in the 10 state Mid-America Freight Coalition, and at the national level with ASHTO and FHWA. In response to MAP-21 and anticipation of future reauthorization, specific recommendations for performance measures for freight including truck travel time and reliability are on the table nationally. We continue to explore questions like where will the data come from, how targets should be set, and how the measures will be used. We continue to work on establishing a joint work plan and really extend the collaboration between Met Council and MnDOT. We have a formal follow-on project to more directly link MnDOT's freight planning with our investment decision making, especially on the highway side. And most importantly, really get organizational buy-in and commitment to make the changes that will make that a reality, taking the recommendations from this regional freight initiative and trying to drive them home across the plate.
A couple thoughts to leave you with before we go to questions: first, of course, commitment to freight is pretty easy to do in a document. What it needs is really consistent and persistent efforts, dedicated staffing and resources and an implementation plan. We need more informal and formal on going collaborations between agencies and the private sector to address the enormous fragmentation in how we invest in the freight system, and operate, maintain and regulate the system. At MnDOT, we spent a lot of time evaluating what our role is based on the agency's mission, its authority and increasingly on the comprehensive risk assessment that we undertake. In some cases, we should take lead responsibility. In many cases, we think we're going to be more effective by getting out of the way and providing support, or advocacy, for others who take the lead. The collaboration we've had so far has helped steer us in the right direction. It's very much a work in progress still, but its work that is progressing.
On the next slide you'll see the contact information for all of the presenters. Any of us would be more than happy to talk to you individually about any aspect of this initiative. With that, I will turn it back to Jennifer.
Thank you, Bill. I'd now like to start off the Q&A session with the questions posted online. Once we get through those questions, if time allows I'll open up the phone lines for questions.
The first question is: How is the freight member role first introduced to the technical advisory board. How has that interaction been over the years and how often does the board meet?
I guess I should take that one as the Metro Council person. I realized when I saw that, that one of the things I had neglected to mention was our transportation advisory board membership is set up in state law, and whenever the federal law suggested we add modal representation, I believe it was about 10-12 years ago. That law was amended, so we added bike reps, transit reps, and that was when we added the freight rep. That was specified in the law that MnDOT would appoint the freight rep, so typically they appoint someone from the MFAC committee. I believe the current members, at least, is the chair of the MFAC committee. The TAB actually meets once a month, they started about 20 minutes ago; I'm missing their meeting today. They meet every month, and they have a major role in selecting projects for funding, but also give us a lot of documented feedback on various plans we're doing along the way. Did I hit all three parts of that?
I believe so. Thank you. And the next question is for you as well, Connie. Did Met Council work with outlying, more rural MPOs or larger TMA freight plan?
We did not in this effort. Let me give you a little context, I-94 runs through the Twin Cities northeast to southeast. The next MPO is to the northwest of us is Saint Cloud, which is probably about 80 miles from downtown Minneapolis; unless you come through the suburbs, then maybe only 40 to 50 miles away. The other MPO within the state of Minnesota that's close to us is Rochester, which is southeast of the Twin Cities by 80 miles. MnDOT is part of their district plans Bill mentioned earlier, and has been working with all those MPOs. So, they are getting integrated into the statewide planning effort, and not so much into our planning effort at the metro level. The MnDOT Metro District itself has almost exactly the same boundaries as our 7 county MPO area, they have one additional county.
They next question is about the Freight Story, How did you identify your freight flow contacts or stories. Were your contacts (such as the grocery store) aware of the earlier trips/modes used to move product?
I can take that one. We worked in close coordination with MnDOT and Met Council to identify those industries in the Twin Cities that were very heavily dependent on freight transportation. From that list, we then began to identify some particular companies that could help illustrate a diversity of industries and products that a broad audience could relate to and be familiar with. We sort of started getting narrower and narrower with that list. In order to identify the specific contacts, we relied on contacts that MnDOT and Met Council already have from the Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee and then reached out to those folks.
And in regards to the last part of that question, were the contacts aware of earlier trips and modes used to move product?
That didn't play a large role in the conversations that we had to develop the profiles.
Alright, thank you. The next question is pipeline data collected also for freight system performance by mode?
I can take a bit of a crack at that. We certainly recognize pipelines are an essential part of the freight system. We have never spent a lot of time trying to analyze that, as the pipeline data is difficult to obtain. So we've sort of acknowledged in more of a nominal fashion than an in depth analysis of it.
In performance management, should we factor environmental impact from freight movement or projects into our planning?
Yeah, I think that's something that is increasing apparent. It's not an area that we've done a lot of work in, and I think we recognize there's more work to do. Particularly, when you start looking at the integration between modes and opportunities for modal diversion, and which modes may be more environmentally friendly than others. In this particular region, of course, we've got some tremendous resources in terms of a well developmental rail system and the unique opportunity of a waterway system. Statewide we have access to the Great Lakes. We look very in depth manner in those modes. I think trying to analyze it from environmental stand point is part of the work plan that needs to be there.
Alright. Dave, question for you. Can you give performance measurement examples for community environmental variable for rail?
Sure. Hi, Abby. For indicators, I'd say rail yard activity near residential areas might be one source. Quiet zones near rail yards or any rail facilities, performance measures, and we had things like grade crossing delays, emissions per ton mile, fuel consumption per ton mile, and hazardous releases. Those were some of the ones we called out.
Alright. Thank you. Do you have any performance measures that examine the cost of freight movement and hence the effect of these costs on economic competitiveness?
Yeah, that's a great question. It's something we've identified as a goal, I think. We've tried to obtain that information primarily through outreach with shippers directly, and understanding their cost structures. Also how they consider that, and the metrics they use. Ideally, what we've talked about trying to develop is cost of transportation services by mode, by industry for various OD pairs, not just locally, of course but national destinations. That's easy in some circumstances, or that information is readily available and not so easy for others. So, again, we've discussed the need for something like that. We have not been able to develop that kind of a cost structure analysis, or the specific measures to capture that. We've been doing it more qualitatively through shipper outreach, which we've done quite a bit of.
Alright. How are you determining dollar values of freight carried?
I can try and answer that one. If you're referring to some of the graphics I was showing or the pie charts in my presentation about tonnage, we took those figures from sources like the Freight Analysis Framework and the Census Bureau. Whatever methodology those sources were using to determine dollar values were what we adopted as well.
The next question is: Alisa mentioned that the desire to expand rail yards situated close to neighborhoods looked like it was going to be thwarted, with consequences for freight rail transport. Were any compromises reached?
You know, I think that there's an uneasy tension that still exists. Some of the capacity constraints that exist in Minneapolis and Saint Paul have been because of the economy, and sort of leveling off of a number of trains operating in those yards have been somewhat mitigated and redesigned. Some of their operations moved to satellite facilities which took the pressure off of some of the container loading operations going on immediately adjacent to the neighborhoods. There have been changes in roadway approaches and so forth that may have helped. The basic issue is still there. It's still a matter of great tension between those living next to those operations, and some of the negative impacts they generate.
The next question: have you done any analysis as to how the transportation system all modes affects the relative economic competitive of the region versus other regions that may be competing for the same business?
I guess I could take a shot at that. I mentioned that we are in the process of redoing our development framework chapter, as part of that, the land use section has hired a woman who is economic development consultant who is trying to look at the economic development potentials here, as well as the economic competitiveness of our region versus other regions. That work is just sort of beginning, so we haven't really got those specific numbers yet. However, it's actually interesting because one of the things we're finding is the work we did on freight is directly playing into the whole economic development issue. Overall development in the region, than it was just strictly as freight being part of the transportation system. People are recognizing that freight is an essential component of economic development.
Next question, and put this out for all of you. Please discuss your experience your experience in identifying and engaging private sector champions for regional freight planning.
This is Connie, and I guess I would say that the reps we have had on our tab have advocates for understanding how the overall system works. I think a lot of them came at it as truckers, and not understanding how decisions were made about highway investments. I think they are carrying that back to some of their peers. I think it's been positive and the whole process, Bill could address better than I. There are a number of people on that that have become real interested in the overall process and become advocates.
I think it's a combination of experiences and approaches that have taken place; formal engagement efforts through workshops and so forth, and informal contacts with industry. By in large, we've been more successful in engaging the carriers, the rail lines, the trucking associations, and individual carriers and so forth than we have with shippers. Unless they have a particular transportation issue they are concerned about, it's much tougher to get them to the table. We're taking another look on that because they are trying to move their products to market, and might be because of the strong regulatory aspect to their operations and pricing and so forth, that are heavily influenced by the public sector. It is much tougher to get the shippers to the table, that's an on-going effort.
Bill, can you give more detail about the freight passenger shared use priority?
Sure. As I mentioned it's coming up in a number of ways now. The interface between freight rail and passenger rail, most all passenger rail improvement proposals are for existing freight rail lines. In our freight rail plan that we prepared in 2010, one of the core principles is passenger rail would not be introduced to the degradation of the freight rail system. There's been a lot of work nationally about how this can work, so it ends up as a win-win. Where the overall rail line is preserved, and perhaps enhanced for both passenger rail and freight. The devil is in the detail, in terms of physical constraints and whether they can co-exist to accommodate the level of service of each. Then of course the neighborhoods that surround these rail lines, even increases of one, two, three trains a day have generated huge outcry from neighborhoods who feel they are going to be negatively impacted by the noise and vibration and so forth. It's a very much of a hot button issue here that is not easily resolved when there's all sorts of constraints that are in place.
As improved freight data becomes available and freight projects become more competitive, are you finding resistance from the more traditional project advocates?
That's a very good question. You know, we have some pretty innovative transportation economic development programs, much of which are freight related here. Where money has been set aside by the legislature to do projects of this nature and have a systematic way of awarding those funds or matching other funds. It's not our traditional process of relying on our performance measures and risk assessments and so forth. Thus, sometimes they do Co-exist somewhat uneasily. I think what we're trying to focus on is how do we bring those processes together in a more seamless fashion in a way that's consistent with what our objectives are, state transportation plan, and what our expectations are of our Stakeholders. That is the dynamite in the mix in terms of moderating what we say are the needs, versus what folks expectations are for the transportation system. That's really the tough nut to crack that we all struggle with.
If I could add one other thing. You know, within the metro area, we haven't had a lot of projects that are exclusively defined as freight projects. One thing we're all facing everywhere in the country is a limited amount of dollars for the projects we want to build. What we have been focusing on is how can you serve multiple objectives with your projects. I think getting better freight data helps you define which of the projects, that are being demanded by everybody, might be the ones that are more valuable for freight, which is a little bit different spin on that question. Not going exclusively for freight project, but where can you say this particular project not only benefits cars but also benefits trucks.
Question about the MnPASS HOT lanes: Are they created with new travel lanes or restriped. How does this benefit freight?
I can address that a little bit. For the two lanes we have up and operating right now, one of them was 100% an HOV lane, and the second one about 80% was an HOV lane. The rest of it was captured by restriping a shoulder. I think what we see is the benefit for freight, is that those lanes use to be limited only to carpools and transit. Now, they are taking a significant amount of single occupant vehicle cars out of the general purpose lanes, which makes more room on the general purpose lanes for the freight people. The other thing they are benefiting freight, I think it was David that mentioned, in a major metro area a large part of the freight you have is just the items you need for daily living; a lot goes in smaller trucks. We do not allow semis in the mid pass lanes but smaller trucks, delivery vans, and things like that that can choose to buy their way in there if they would rather spend money than time.
Another question about the freight story: How was the project initiated? By MnDOT, Met Council or did Volpe carry it out?
You know, the project was co-managed by both MnDOT and Met Council. We all contributed to that story, but it was really Volpe that did the research and development of that piece. However, it is something we all reviewed and contributed towards.
Thank you. I don't see any questions. I do want to make sure everybody did see a post in the chat box from Jocelyn Jones from the FHWA Resource Center and gave links to several related trainings that are available through the national highway institute.
Well, I'm going to start to closeout. If anybody does think of a question, please go ahead and type it in, we do have a few more minutes. However, at this point I do want to thank all our presenters for a great presentation today and thank everybody in attendance. The recording will be available online within the next few weeks, and an email will be sent out once it is available. The next seminar will be held on April 17th. More information about the topic of the seminar will be available soon. I'll send a notice out through the freight planning web service once it is available. If you are not already a member, I do encourage you to join, with nearly 1,000 members, it's a great way to share information and learn more from peers in the freight community. Thank all the presenters and enjoy the rest of your day.