Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
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 Measuring Freight Performance.
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.
Today we'll have four presenters - Debbie Bowden of the Maryland Department of Transportation, Dr. Ned Mitchell of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Esther Hitzfelder of the Texas Department of Transportation, and Juan Carlos Villa of the Texas Transportation Institute.
Debbie Bowden is the Freight and Economic Policy Analyst with Maryland Department of Transportation's Office of Freight and Multimodalism. In this capacity, she manages the implementation of the statewide freight plan and is the resource consultant on trucking issues. She is an advocate for supply chain partners, both the carriers and shippers, with a focus on establishing efficient and sustainable freight systems and operations. Before Debbie came to state government, she worked in private industry as a trainer and consultant to trucking companies and held logistics positions in manufacturing and food production.
Dr. Ned Mitchell has been with the Coastal and Hydraulics Lab at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center since 2006. His research focuses on systems analysis and performance evaluation of the Corps of Engineer's vast navigation portfolio, which includes hundreds of deep-draft coastal ports, thousands of miles of inland waterways, and an aging inventory of locks and dams. Dr. Mitchell has led development of the Channel Portfolio Tool (CPT), a decision-support software package which uses data from the Corps' Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center to objectively evaluate and prioritize navigation projects for limited federal Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funding.
Esther Hitzfelder has worked as a Special Projects Coordinator in TxDOT's International Relations Office/Government and Public Affairs Division since 2000. She participates in the US - Mexico Joint Working Committee and has collaborated with other states and agencies in both countries on a number of border related studies. In the last four years, she has worked extensively with FHWA, the Texas Transportation Institute, and local, state and federal stakeholders in both countries, on Commercial Border Wait Time/Travel Time studies at 5 different border crossings in Texas. She has also worked with the Regional Border Master Plan Studies in Laredo and Pharr.
Juan Carlos Villa has thirty years of professional experience in transportation and logistics projects. He has experience in consulting, research and engineering projects in Mexico, the U.S. and other Latin American counties. For the last 10 years he has performed research activities and recently moved to Mexico City to manage the office of the Texas Transportation Institute, part of the Texas A&M University System. Mr. Villa has extensive experience in border issues, for the Federal Highway Administration, the Texas and the Arizona Departments of Transportation he is currently managing several projects identifying technologies to measure border crossing time and delay, and analyzing performance measures at commercial border crossings.
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. 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 Measuring Freight Performance. 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 Debbie Bowden of the Maryland Department of Transportation. You can go ahead and get started.
Thank you. Good day everyone. I am with the Office of Freight and Multimodalism in the Maryland Department of Transportation. I will share with you how our department went through building a freight performance measurement system.
Some of the objectives I want to cover today in the presentation: give you background of the framework that was already established, in which we placed our freight performance measurement system; explain the approach and process in building the system (I'll spend a lot of time on that); highlight our successes; and outline our continuation plan to give you an idea of what we are going to go next.
Just as some background on the Maryland Freight System, we have two ports. Our largest port is the Port of Baltimore, and we have a smaller port on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Salisbury. We also have two Class I Railroads: CSX and Norfolk Southern. The CSX runs the National Gateway through the State and the Norfolk Southern runs the Crescent Corridor, and several other short line railroads are operating in the state of Maryland. Our major highway freight corridors are I-95 and I-81, which run north and south, and I-70 and I-68, which run east and west. We have three airports that operate cargo facilities in the state.
Also as background, I want to share with you the MDOT department structure. Our Office of Freight and Multimodalism is located at the Secretary's Office within the Department of Transportation. Our MDOT secretary oversees five modal administrations and serves as Chairman of our Transportation Authority, which is our toll and bridge authority. Each of these administrations deals with freight or has freight-related activity in some capacity. As I said, at the Secretary's Office, freight is represented by our Office of Freight and Multimodalism. At the State Highway Administration, freight is represented in their Regional Planning Division and their Motor Carrier Division. Our Motor Vehicle Administration handles commercial driver's licensing and truck registration. The Maryland Port Administration's main job is to make sure freight goes through the ports. In the Port of Baltimore, we've focus on bulk movement, container, and roll-on and roll-off. Through the Maryland Aviation Administration, we have the three airports that handle cargo. The Transportation Authority has the Tolls Facilities, which carry a lot of truck traffic, and they also have the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Division, which does truck and safety inspections. Even the Maryland Transit Administration has a connection with freight in that it shares the corridors with the freight railroads.
When we started looking at freight performance measurements, we wanted to look at all of the modals and what they were already doing. We also used some documents that were already established as a way to guide what we were going to do in setting up a freight performance measurement system. The first document is the Maryland Transportation Plan. This is our 20 year vision that is legislatively-required and updated every 5 years. It was last published in 2009, and development for the next iteration is going to start in 2012. It lists the goals for the department, quality of service, safety and security, system preservation and performance, environmental stewardship, and connectivity for daily life, so we already had the goals in place for which we needed to measure for freight performance. The next document is the Annual Attainment Report. This is MDOT's performance measurement reporting document that demonstrates how the department is meeting the goals. We had these two documents already, so we just needed to plug in elements of freight performance. We were greatly ahead, and that was a big part of our success in establishing our system. The last document is the Statewide Freight Plan. This is a comprehensive and multimodal analysis of the freight network. It has project opportunities and policy options for the State for dealing with multimodal freight. It describes the existing systems, through commodity flows and the infrastructure and the existing freight facilities, and it also scopes future growth and demand and modal market share. The Statewide Freight Plan also lists the same goals that are in the Maryland Transportation Plan: quality of service, safety and security, system preservation and performance, environmental stewardship, and connectivity. So, as I mentioned before, we had the documentation in place; we had the goals in place. Each of the modes was already established in having something to do with freight.
In setting up a great performance measurement system, we recognized that our office didn't necessarily have the capacity to build or maintain a freight performance measure system. We needed help, so we teamed up with experts in each of the modes. We talked to people who were already established in collecting performance measures, and we talked with people who were already established in dealing with freight in each of the modes. So, the first thing we did was communicate. We went out and we talked to everybody we could. We investigated performance measures that were already being collected in each of the modes that were related in any way to freight. Also in that communication and investigation, we identified potential new measures that could help freight performance, and then we matched that with what we already had for projects and policies in the Statewide Freight Plan. We did this through the coordination of a work group. The performance measures workgroup was made up of the subject matter experts from every mode so that we could tap into what they were already doing and what they already knew so that we made the process go much more smoothly. One of the points I would like to emphasize here is that in establishing a freight performance measure system, you don't have to do it alone. There are plenty of folks out there in other agencies as well as your own that can help set up the system.
So after we communicated, we started collaborating with the performance measurement subject matter experts and we decided to start from the bottom up and gather all the measures we could. We had this large bucket, and we threw everything that could possibly do with freight into that performance measures bucket. We interviewed the performance measures experts and also the program and policy staff to get an idea of what they would like to see captured as a measurement. We also interviewed State sister agencies; for example, we went to our tax collection agency that handles the motor fuel tax to get an idea of whether there was a measurement there for truck movement, mobility, or ownership in the State. We also partnered with the Department of the Environment for air quality and other environmental concerns from freight. We filled the bucket with over 70 freight performance measures. After we got the measurements that were collected, we also knew there was data that needed to be captured and we recognized the gap in the data. So, we really had a good idea of what was out there and what we still needed to do. The success from this interview process and collaboration process was not only identifying 70 freight performance measures, but it was also the education and the outreach on both sides to let the people at the modes know that freight is something that can be measured, and for us to understand the processes and procedures that they needed to go through to collect and report measures.
With all of these measures, we needed some context: what do to. We already had the what and the where. We knew the measures we already had, the measures we would like to have, and where we could get those established measures. We needed to answer the why and the how. The work group set up some guiding principles to allow us to move forward and not trip over our own selves in the process. We decided that the measures had to be purposeful. We didn't want to collect measures just for collection's sake; they had to tell a story. They had to be maintainable. They had to fit into the already set-up data collection system. They also had to be manageable. The work group looked at performance management from the start, although we haven't set up any kind of management parameters, we wanted to recognize that a single performance measure could represent a system that could be managed. Finally, we wanted to integrate it. We didn't want to have a separate freight performance measure system. We wanted freight to be integrated into the department's performance measures, collection, and reporting. We wanted freight not to be separate, but recognized as the integral part of the Transportation Plan, the Transportation System that it is.
Using these principles, we started with a bottom up approach. We collected our 70 measures. Now we wanted to flip that and look at it from the top down. We wanted to see how we could start to manage these 70 freight performance measures. We started working on why: why were we collecting these different measures? From that, we developed categories for the purpose of the data and the measurement. We talked to subject matter experts. We talked to forecasters and modelers. We talked to people that collected key indicators. We had a whole bunch of information and a whole bunch of why. We wanted to develop a purpose. So, these are the purposes. Does it measure actionable policy goals and objectives? Does it measure a need or benefit/cost in order to forecast freight projects? Does it measure the achievement of the freight system through key indicators? Does it provide data to populate freight system modeling? The final a purpose: can it influence and respond to freight performance measure requirements in the next federal service transportation authorization?
Once we established the purpose, we could plug in the 70 different freight performance measures and identify what purpose each one would serve the department. We also went through the exercise of correlating the goals from the Transportation Plan and Statewide Freight Plan, the policies, and the measurements. Quite simply, we built a spreadsheet, coded the goals and policies with numbers 1 - 7, and labeled the measurements that fit the appropriate goals. It was that easy to get a matrix to work from.
Then, as I said, we wanted to integrate freight performance measures into the established system. We had the what, where, and why. Next, we tackled the how. It was quite simple; because Maryland already had a transportation performance measures system, we could just plug into that data-capturing toolbox and also report out in the same document, in our Annual Attainment Report. To introduce the public that reads the Attainment Report to this idea of freight performance measures, we dedicated a page to freight. We indexed the measurements that were already being reported by the modes on this page, and we developed a narrative to share some of the successes and showcase some of the freight programs that have been working over the last couple of years.
These are some of the measures we identified. The goal, on the left-hand side, is again from our Transportation Plan and our Statewide Freight Plan. The performance measure, on the right, shows measurements that had already been captured by our department. We did not do any new development of a measurement; we just identified that, for instance, average truck turnaround time and marine terminal, which is reported by the Maryland Port Administration, is a performance measure for the goal of quality of service. So, in the report, anyone who wants more information on that can go to page 63 to find out exactly what strategies the Port Administration did to reach their performance goals. Another example, under safety and security, is the annual number and rate of traffic fatalities and personal injuries on all roads in Maryland. If you note that this does not say truck fatalities or injuries. We recognize that the highway system is used by both passengers and trucks and that the annual number and rate of fatalities and injuries impacts the movement of freight the same as it impacts the movement of passengers. We wanted to identify that in the report. As we move forward, we will separate that out so that we can see systems, strategies, programs, etc. that do help move freight more efficiently to make the road safer for passengers and trucks. Here are some more examples of performance measures that were already reported that we identified as impacting or influencing freight.
Another success we had in establishing freight performance measures was that our State Highway Administration (I'm using this as an illustration; all of the modes have been able to do this) went through an exercise of identifying freight mobility indicators that they are going to be using to report in their annual business plan. These are, again, indicators that they can show a program, a project, a process, that worked to influence freight. Let me draw your attention to the second one: the amount of time savings for trucks due to delay reduction gained by implementing the CVISN program. This is a truck safety program that uses ITS to help ensure that trucks are operating on the highway safely. That program is already in place, and we are going to capture the performance of the program and report it as an indicator for the successes in the coming years.
That is what we have done. We are very pleased that we have freight performance measures in our Annual Attainment Report. We're looking forward to building upon that system. Our next step is that we will participate in the next iteration of our 20 year vision document, the Maryland Transportation Plan. We are going to make sure that freight is integrated in that plan. We are sitting at the table to have a multimodal perspective. We will also develop an internal reporting document that reflects how well the Statewide Freight Plan has done. That is a plan that has policies, project ideas, projects needs, and we want to show that we have reached some of the milestones in that plan; that is a plan has been implemented, and it's not just sitting on a shelf. We are using that to determine where we go in our office. We will also continue outreach and education to our modal folks and also to sister agencies in the State to help them recognize performance measures that may be related to freight and establish those connections.
Thank you again for letting Maryland participate in this Talking Freight webinar. I look forward to any questions. Here's my contact information if you wish to ask me anything off-line, but, Jennifer, I am done.
Thank you, Debbie. We did have a few questions, but we will get to those after the next two presentations. We will move onto our next presentation, which will be given by Dr. Ned Mitchell of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center.
Dr. Ned Mitchell
Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate the chance to talk. I'm Ned Mitchell, and I'm at what is known as the Waterways Experiment Station. Some people may be familiar with us. I will be talking about the Channel Portfolio Tool, which is a decision-support package we developed over the last several years to give personnel within the Corps of Engineers the capability to objectively prioritize our large inventory of navigation projects nationwide.
Just to put things in context and discuss some of the issues we're dealing with, the reason we need a tool like this is that we are talking about several hundred million dollars each year invested towards operations and maintenance of the navigation infrastructure. This is everything from dredging deep draft channels and coastal ports to maintenance of locks and dams on the inland system. The fact that our national economy is dependent upon this infrastructure has not necessarily translated into public awareness or appreciation of the Corps' mission. That is the background of perhaps why we are facing some of these funding shortfalls.
This chart is useful; this indicates the running balance in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which was established by the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. It is used by the Corps of Engineers to conduct this kind of activity: maintenance dredging and repair of the waterway network. That black line indicates the balance in the fund, which means that outlays from the fund have fallen short of revenues into the fund over the last several years, resulting in a large surplus. In order for the Corps to make the case for why more funds should be released to meet the needs the districts have identified, we need a tool like CPT to make a more coherent, objective case for this funding. It is web-based decision support tool, and it's meant to provide users at all levels of management with a user-friendly way to go in and utilize an objective source of data. I will talk a little bit more about the data in just a minute.
The key point is that the data within the CPT comes from the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center; this part of the Corps of Engineers located within the New Orleans District offices. It has a legal mandate to collect and gather data on commercial utilization of federal waterways. It is an outstanding resource-one of the best in transportation research for freight movement. Moving back to the top of the slide, you'll notice there is an active URL for Corps personnel. We have not yet gotten the public version of CPT ready, though that is coming soon. The main issue is working to ensure that we are in compliance with nondisclosure rules so that sensitive data is not released. We are sure we can meet those requirements and will be getting a version of CPT released publicly, hopefully within the next few weeks.
Just a little more context on why a tool like CPT is needed: even though the Corps' budget comes out of Washington, DC, historically, we have a patchwork organizational structure. We have close to 40 districts nationwide organized by watershed. Historically, these districts have a fair amount of autonomy with how they manage projects. Now, we are trying to institute an across-the-board, consistent approach to allocating resources nationwide. So, that is what is driving the push for this tool that utilizes objective data in a consistent manner.
Here is a shot of what CPT looks like. Users can log in and register so we can keep track of who is using it and where.
I will talk more about the Waterborne Commerce Data, which feeds CPT. The Corps' version is a rich data set. It has dock-level fidelity in terms of spatial resolution. We have origin-to-destination route information. Again, that's for Corps use only. That allows us to dig in and start to look at some interesting trends in freight movement. I will show some examples of that later in the presentation. At present, the Waterborne Commerce Center already publishes this data that's been aggregated to the project level. That's released publicly; the URL for that is there on this slide. The Corps' Planning and Economics of practice has used this data for decades. This is what gets used anytime a project or new port wants to deepen to handle bigger ships. I know there's a lot of discussion right now on the Panama Canal expansion, and a lot of ports on the East Coast want to deepen to handle larger vessels. There is an entire process that is established for those new deepenings that depends upon economic justification. This data is used to feed and inform those studies. On the other side, we have the Operations community of practice. They are charged with the year-over-year maintenance and upkeep of these projects. Once you deepen them to a new depth, you still have shoaling and sedimentation action, and you have to come along and maintain that. That is the activity we are talking about for CPT: a way to objectively, year over year, evaluate the performance of projects in terms of their freight throughput or other efficiency metrics, and to allocate limited resources accordingly.
Here's some technical information to give you a sense of what's going on beneath CPT. We have a spatial waterway network, a GIS-based network of channels and waterways throughout the country. We also have a database of tens of thousands of docks, which represent origins and destinations for tonnage in the waterway system. We conduct a spatial join to the nearest reach or segment in the waterway network, and that's how we go about crediting, if you will, all the portions of the network that get transited by any given shipment. Every entry in the Waterborne Commerce Database has an origin and destination dock, and that allows us to route freight movements accordingly through this network of channels and waterways.
Here is a schematic to drive home the point of what CPT is doing. I call this depth utilization analysis, which is not just looking at the total freight throughput, but looking at how deep the freight travels. We're the agency tasked with maintaining channels suitable for navigation, so we need to know how deep this freight is moving and how efficiently or fully industry is utilizing the depths we provide. The way we do that is by tallying up the entire throughput on a channel in a given year and keeping track of the draft, which every shipment in the database has, and comparing that to real-time conditions in the channels. In the schematic, you see the vessel coming out of the page. This is our channel template. This is what a year's worth of traffic through the channel looks like when applied over the draft of the vessels. Natural sedimentation or shoaling occurs and due to underkeel clearance requirements and/or local pilot association restrictions, or the like,you will end up with a new controlling depth for the purposes of navigation. Now, with CPT, we are able to come along and quantify the historical rates of throughput that are disrupted by these new controlling depths. That is the basis and that is how we go about evaluating projects nationally across the board.
Some of the visualizations that CPT generates: this is an example of a channel in New York Harbor. Think of the orange dotted line as a hypothetical controlling depth due to shoaling action that's occurred during the last budget cycle or two. Now, we are able to plot the different commodities that are using the various draft increments we've provided. In this example you'll notice historical rates of cargo at these depths that have been closed off due to shoaling happen to be sand, gravel, and stone. That is not to say it isn't important to dredge there: quite the contrary. An economist might argue that a situation like this might double or triple the cost of aggregate in the vicinity, so it's more than justified for the Corps to spend $1 million to dredge the channel. That is just a hypothetical example of the sort of discussion and study we hope to enable with the tool like CPT.
Here's another example for the Great Lakes. I show this to indicate the regional variation we see in these utilization charts. Here, you'll notice there is a narrower band of depths to navigate. Two or three feet of shoaling could create major disruptions. It could effectively close ports. That is crucial information that needs to be factored into decisions.
Here is an example on the West Coast. You'll notice that from these charts, we are already getting a sense of how these different projects are utilized by shipping for the purposes of carrying freight. On the West Coast, you see in a lot of instances of coastwise traffic, which means domestic traffic that travels over deep ocean water. On the West Coast, you see at the deepest depths, a lot of coastwise tonnage. That is Alaskan crude oil coming down to the refineries on the West Coast. Already, you can start to glean information about these navigational systems, these transportation systems and the types of commodities they're carrying.
Here is Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast. You can see the contribution of the [Gulf] Intracoastal waterway. You can see the exchanges where you'll have imports, primarily crude oil, that is refined into other products. You see coastwise tonnage; this is largely gasoline here that is shaded pink. I will talk a little bit more about that later in the presentation. You see chemicals and fertilizers and those sorts of things being shipped elsewhere in the country. Already, just with these quick visuals, you can understand these systems better than we are able to at present.
One last point to make about CPT is that it provides users with a means of sifting through the data. You can define arbitrary groupings of projects if you wanted to look at, for example, the Chesapeake Bay. There isn't a Chesapeake Bay project or district within the Corps, but we can go through and pick the projects that line Chesapeake Bay and start to get summaries of all the traffic utilizing that system. It is not easy as it summing up project totals. Anytime you have transiting tonnage shared across projects or through traffic that doesn't stop, it becomes more complicated than just adding things up. You have to start looking at consolidated statements of commerce, which we're able to generate with CPT for navigation systems. That's a powerful feature.
We are able to do visualizations. Here's Google Earth, which is a nice, readily-accessible tool for quickly visualizing how tonnage and throughput move through our projects. Here's Boston Harbor. The color coding is there to differentiate segments of the waterway. Magnitude of freight is indicated by the width of the line. You start to generate these utilization charts, which give a sense of the variety in terms of commodity types, depth of transit, and magnitude at these different regions. This allows local project managers to have more information at their disposal as they formulate the year's budget requests.
Here are some more depth utilization chart examples. I did this for the entire East Coast. This is the North Atlantic division and South Atlantic division within the Corp's command structure. You can start to see distribution of cargo across the range of depths. Obviously, it is dominated at the deepest depth by foreign imports and exports. You can see the contribution of internal barge traffic around 9 or 10 feet. This is in terms of traffic types. We have Canadian imports and exports, domestic shipments, all of those kinds of stuff overseas. It is indicated here and color-coded to match up.
If we advance, we get that same chart in terms of commodity types. We can generate charts like this for any number of commodity groups. It is interesting to see the crude petroleum at the deepest depth, and also contribution from coal and manufactured goods. Again, quick visualizations to help us understand these freight systems, what's carried where, and the like.
Here are a few quick examples of another feature of CPT, which is visualizing commodity flows. I mentioned gasoline shipments earlier. The crude oil that's shipped in [to Corpus Christi] is refined and shipped out to other ports in the country. A lot of gasoline goes across the Gulf to Tampa, but we see shipments to the East Coast as well. These are quick and easy to generate. The idea was to empower and enable personnel throughout the Corps of Engineers to dig in and use this data efficiently.
Here is another example for the lower Mississippi River. This is outbound petroleum shipments, so you can see a lot of interconnectivity with the rest of the country. I'll talk more about this activity momentarily.
Here's another chart for inbound corn to the lower Mississippi River. You see contributions from the heartland, where the agricultural segment is dominant. For any project in the country, you can generate a report like this to show how it contributes to ongoings elsewhere within the system. For example, we have side channels throughout the Mississippi main stem. These are small, regional ports. Typically they have a few grain terminals. They don't rise to the top of any lists for overall throughput or magnitude, but there are lots of these. If the Corps is unable to maintain these, you'll see disruption in the bigger projects, like the lower Mississippi. If the feeder components of the system are shut off, then the high use portions are also going to suffer; likewise with locks and dams on the Ohio River and upper Mississippi River. Those are systems that all have to be maintained to ensure an efficient freight system. That is the point we are trying to make to federal examiners and Congressional representatives.
Here's another example with commodity flows to the Great Lakes. I think this is Saginaw, Michigan. You can see the contributions and the interconnectivity with the rest of the system. I show this example of the Great Lake because we are doing a system-based study of cargo. The CPT allows us to quickly generate charts, such as the one you see now, which shows the amount of exchanged cargo between port pairings on the Great Lakes system. This is for years 2005 through 2008, drafting at least 27 ft. The way you read this chart is to say, for example, between the ports of Burns Harbor and Duluth-Superior, we have 14.6 million tons drafting at least 27 feet over those four years. This is a symmetrical table. You can go to the corresponding cell on the other side of the diagonal and you'll see the same number. The reason I show this, other than the curiosity factor, is that we are able to use this table in a mathematical construct to start to calculate optimal combinations of projects to dredge for any given budget ceiling. Our budget is controlled by the Administration and Congress; that number is set and we have to make-do with that number. In this scenario for the Great Lakes, depending on where the budget ceiling is set, we will have a different optimal combination of ports to dredge. Here a "1" means we dredge that port; a "0" means we do not. There are a lot of interesting things to observe. It is not as simple as ranking ports in terms of total tonnage because of all the connectivity and feeder issues I mentioned earlier. You cut off the small guys, the big ports may suffer as well. Those are issues we are starting to take into account by utilizing the data in a structured manner.
One other thing we are doing with the data is looking at families of waterborne tonnage across the nation. You can run a query with CPT for disruptions due to shoaling. We are able to compare the throughput in the channel to the bottom of the channel and say, hypothetically, if we were to experience 5 ft of shoaling, which is severe but not unheard of, what would it disrupt, based on historical trends and commodity types, and where would we see those disruptions? We can glean that information very quickly with CPT. In this example, you can see the Great Lakes system being obviously disrupted by 5 ft of shoaling. You see that a lot of the grain export terminal facilities on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers are showing up. And here,coal, at the deepest depths, starts to show up as well.
Independent of this chart, we have data on the number of vessel transits as a function of draft. We are able to generate these trends to give us an indication of the average tons per vessel as a function of vessel draft. That is very useful information. The slopes of these lines tell us how much tonnage has to come off each vessel on average to reduce drafts by one foot. This gives us hard quantitative data to be sent to federal examiners to say this is the value; this is what is at stake due to one foot of draft. It's a scalable approach, so we can apply this nationwide or at the local or regional level. New utilizations of data like this are all towards a more transparent, objective, and consistent argument for support of the freight system.
This reiterates that. I also want to make the point that we are getting some interest and collaboration from other federal groups. TRB did a problem statement through the National Cooperative Freight Research Program that has just been awarded to the Texas Transportation Institute, who is up next.
I think that concludes my presentation. I've got my contact number and information here. I will be happy to talk off-line. Thank you.
Thank you. There are lots of questions in there for you. We will get to those after this last presentation. So, with that, we will move onto our final presentation, which will be given jointly by Esther Hitzfelder of the Texas Department of Transportation and Juan Carlos Villa of the Texas Transportation Institute.
Thank you, Jennifer. In the last presentation, the important measurement they were looking at was draft depth, but what we are looking at is crossing time: the commercial border crossing time measurement along the US-Mexico border. Juan Carlos has been the Principal Researcher on all the studies we're going to talk about today, and I'm the Project Manager from TxDOT.
Very quickly, we'll look at the agenda of our presentation today. We are going to be looking at the wait time and crossing time studies that we have been working on in Texas at the border crossings. Juan Carlos will discuss the different technologies that were tested to see which would work best in our environment, some of which can be very harsh. I will show you some of the different study locations and data that we collected. Juan Carlos will discuss the web prototypes and reports that have been funded by the Federal Highway Administration, and then I will go over the next steps in our program with you.
Let me talk for a minute about the background and objectives of the border crossing time measurement. As Ned indicated, these freight movements across the international border are important for the economic health of our country. Delay in commercial vehicles entering and leaving the US ports of entry with Mexico is a key indicator of transportation and supply chain performance. With over $1 billion of trade with Mexico on a daily basis, this can cause large dollar impacts, as California saw in a study they did a few years ago. Texas, along with the US-Mexico joint working committee, is interested in measuring travel times for commercial truck crossings from Mexico to the US. Previously, there has been no good ongoing data about how long it takes commercial trucks to cross the border. The data that we are collecting will be useful to make informed decisions on reducing delays caused by traffic congestion, better accommodating trade and travel demand, and increasing economic growth and job opportunities on both sides of the border without sacrificing border safety and security.
Juan Carlos Villa
The first step we took was to analyze the technologies that could be implemented to measure border crossing times in a systematic way. We analyzed six technologies that included the different types of AVI. We also looked at license plate reader recognition; vehicle matching; AVLs, particularly GPS; mobile phone location; and inductive loop detectors. After analysis, which included discussions with stakeholders locally at most of the border crossings as well as the users of this technology, we came up with two recommendations to be analyzed further: the GPS and the RFID. FHWA funded a project to test GPS to test at a border crossing in California. We tested the RFID technology at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso.
One of the reasons why the RFID was better suited for the US-Mexico border crossing is that most of the trucks that cross from Mexico already have a FAST tag or transponders that are being used by customs and border protection. Also, some of the states are implementing safety programs, which are also using RFID. In this case, the Texas Department of Safety is implementing a program, and California will do it as well.
The other advantage of RFID is there's no in-truck equipment required. The tag is already installed. The operation costs are low. The data is not as precise as the GPS data, but again, it is relatively cheap. The only point is that we need to have agreements with Mexican agencies to install the equipment in Mexico and maintain it. That's another concern, but so far, we have been successful.
Let me give you some background on the studies we're doing. Currently we're collecting wait times or crossing times at five different locations. I want to thank the Federal Highway Administration, especially the Freight Operations Office and the Border Coordinator for all their assistance with these projects.
First of all, I would like to say that not all has been smooth sailing. We've had some major and many minor glitches as we have gone through and done these studies and installed equipment. Some were due to weather, like hurricanes and very high winds; some were due to dealing with the international border as there are a myriad of local, State and Federal agencies at each crossing in each country. On the screen, you'll see the five different locations where we are currently collecting data.
We have a centralized control of the RFID systems. Actually, the border between Texas and Mexico is over 1250 miles long. That is more than half of the entire order between the two countries, and over 66% of trade flows through Texas ports of entry. So, what we have done is through the Internet, we send information from the remotely located locations to a server at TTI in El Paso, where the data is processed for useful information for stakeholders. Juan Carlos will describe that process to you in a few minutes.
In a nutshell, let me show you how the system works. It is not very complicated; it is not rocket science, but sometimes it seems that way. What we have is installation of at least three measuring locations at each bridge. All of the border crossings in Texas are bridges because of the Rio Grande. That is not the case all along the border. We have one located where the queue on the Mexican side tends to start, or further back from that, so we have a read from when the trucks start getting in line. We have one reading location at Customs and Border Protection's primary inspection booth, and we have one at the exit of the State inspection facility. The trucks are equipped with RFID tags, which pass under each measuring site and record a unique tag number and timestamp. The timestamps are simply compared, and then it gives us the crossing time for northbound trucks. I want to state that, in this particular system, the RFID tags are completely anonymous. The only information that we are reading here is the time it takes for the truck to cross.
Juan Carlos Villa
As mentioned, we first identified the physical location of those readers, and then we started developing the systems in parallel. The first one was the field system, the reader stations and how to transmit the information from the field to the central system, which is the second one. This is where the information is processed. Then, the final or third sub system is the user one. In this subsystem, we have two types of information: the pre-trip traveler information, which is as close to real-time as we can provide, and the centralized repository of data. On this one, we can start archiving information for all kinds of uses. For us, transportation planners, I think this is really nice and really important. We can start using that information for economic impact analysis. San Diego did a study recently and came up with a figure for border crossing impact delay. We can also use it for calibrating border traffic models. There are several along the US-Mexican and US-Canadian borders. We can also use it for long range transportation planning. We've developed those systems and the information will be used to develop these potential performance measures. Again, this is just a sample. The border crossing wait time is the foundation for those performance measures. I don't want to go through all of them, but, for example, total delay would be the delay on each segment of the trip. Esther will explain what we mean by segments of the trip. With the different readers we can install along the process, we can segment the trip and calculate crossing time and delay.
There's also the buffer index. It expresses the amount of extra time, or buffer time, needed to be on-time. In this case, we are calculating the buffer in the system at the 95th percentile. In discussion with stakeholders, we think that for freight, in comparison to private vehicles, I think this is too high. We can also do the calculation using the 80th percentile instead of the 95th.
How the installation went: the key point is here to do the reader in Mexico. This is a map. The yellow line shows the Rio Grande River, which has no water in it actually, but basically, we can install a reader in Mexico and that will be the farthest point back at which we analyze where the queue will start. Esther will show us the one in Pharr-Reynosa that has unique characteristics.
This is a map of the Pharr-Reynosa crossing, which is the first project that TxDOT funded. The first reader, as you see at the bottom, is where the queue tends to form in Mexico. We also have a reader set up right before the bridge starts. This is an unusual situation and set up for a border crossing because the bridge, which crosses a floodplain, is actually over 3 miles long. So, we set up an extra reader here to be able to see how long it takes the truck to actually traverse the 3 mile bridge instead of just the border crossing and all the inspections there. The third reader is set up at the CBP Primary Inspection, and the fourth reader at the exit of the Safety Inspection Facility, so we can get segmented times for all of those different segments between the readers.
What we can do is we can measure CBP's definition of wait time, which is very specific to CBP. They have defined it as from the end of the queue to arrival at CBP Primary Inspection. We define crossing time, or travel time, as the end of the queue to release from the final inspection, which is the Safety Inspection, or actually traversing the entire border crossing process.
On the next slide, we have a graph of border crossing times over the course of a week. You can see the peaks and valleys from one day to the next; the time it takes the truck to cross from the beginning of the queue to the exit of the State Inspection Facility. Once we have months and even years of data for given bridges, we will be able to predict the peaks and valleys, and shipping companies, inspection services, and agencies with infrastructure, like TxDOT, will be able to respond with their processes and procedures to shorten the wait times. There are times when trucks will wait for hours and miles in line. This is at the Pharr-Reynosa crossing, and between 33,000 and 38,000 trucks cross per month at this particular crossing.
My next slide shows crossing information at the Colombia Solidaridad Bridge, which is in the Laredo area. This curve shows the average wait time on a particular day, which happened to be October 20 of this year, and again, this is the time it takes trucks to get from the end of the queue to the CBP primary intersection lanes.
The next slide shows the same kind of curve, but it shows the entire process, from the end of the queue to the exit of the State Inspection Facility. The curves are very similar with peaks and valleys, although inspection times seem to take longer later in the day. This might be due to a variety of issues, including trucks with safety problems, inspection systems not working properly, having fewer inspection lanes open, or a host of other issues that occur at the border.
The last slide on this particular day at this particular crossing shows a sample size of 1,050 trucks (the trucks with actual RFID tags); 59% of them cleared the inspections (this does not include waiting in line, but the inspections themselves) in less than 10 minutes. Sixty-six percent of those cleared in less than 20 minutes. Of course, you have 29% of the trucks that took more than 30 minutes, and there can be a variety of different reasons for that happening. I just wanted to give you an idea of the numbers of trucks that we are looking at. At the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, between 77,000 and 105,000 trucks cross monthly, and between 22,000 and 26,000 trucks per month cross at the Colombia Solidaridad Bridge.
Juan Carlos Villa
As I mentioned earlier, we have two types of data. We are working currently under a grant funded by the Federal Highway to develop these user interfaces. We are working with Battelle, and again, FHWA. We have two types of queries. First, we can look at the archive data. We can identify which project or crossing we want to work on. We can go and look at different reports or journal papers or presentations, and we can do a request to the administration on a particular project or report that we would like to look at. Again, we're working on that. Hopefully we can finish by early next year, and the information will be available to users.
The second type of information is the traveler information. That is close to real-time data. Here, I show a slide with the port of entry, so we can go and select the port of entry want to analyze. We have the wait time, posted by CB P, and the number of lanes open. We have a color-coded map, as the one you see currently, for traffic congestion. This has red, green and yellow, depending on the wait time. We can see the currency exchange; the number of trips will depend on the exchange rate. As this rate fluctuates, people go North or South, depending on the exchange rate.
The other way to provide information to the users is using this screen where you can actually display how you want to have the RFID for each port of entry, and you can have this information on your computer or on your phone or mobile device. Again, you can select a port of entry and have information on the crossing or wait time at a particular crossing.
Finally, as I mentioned earlier, we can produce standardized reports that show all the potential performance measures that we have developed. This chart might be too busy, but we can develop those according to your needs. For example, this shows the average crossing time, the total crossing time, the median, and the sample size. On this, we can also show the volume, even though currently, we don't have access to the real-time or close to real-time volume information for trucks crossing. For those of you who work with other databases, this is shown on a monthly basis. What we are working with is DPS, which has weigh in motion stations at the Safety Inspection Facilities. We're trying to develop a system that will collect information and send it to our system so we can include that information on the different reports that we are producing.
Again, we can analyze before and after conditions once we have sufficient data, for months or years. I think this is something FHWA, DOT, CBP and DPS have expressed interest in. What happens if we add, for example, more staffing into the inspection process? What happens if we add one more FAST lane? We can produce before and after conditions for the wait time and crossing time at the different ports of entry. Esther will tell us about the next steps.
We already heard about getting the total truck volume for the ports of entry from DPS, and we are in the process of doing that. Our next steps include beginning a wait time study at the Zaragoza Bridge in El Paso, which is the other bridge in El Paso that has significant commercial traffic. In this study, we will look not only at commercial vehicle crossings, but also looking at northbound and southbound passenger vehicle crossings. In addition, we will begin the dissemination of the data in real-time and through historical reports, using the information from the FHWA prototype study that Juan Carlos just described to us. We will also make recommendations on improvements, after analyzing the data, to reduce delays and to increase economic growth and job opportunities without sacrificing border safety and security. We are thankful we are able to start on this current study to disseminate this data, thanks to a grant from FHWA. We are in the contracting process and we hope to have this rolling by early next year, if not before.
On our last slide here, you have our contact information. We will be happy to answer questions.
Thank you. We will now go ahead and start the question and answer session with the questions posted in the chat box. If we get through these and still have time, we will take questions over the phone.
Esther and Juan Carlos, how do trucked compare to railed containers turnaround, and how do the border crossing times compare to total crossing times?
Juan Carlos Villa
The border crossing for rail is a completely different story. For example, the crossing in Laredo, which is the most congested one, has windows of operation in terms of rail and they operate at night as well; northbound has a window and southbound has a window. I don't think we can compare. As I mentioned earlier, trucking is the prevalent way of crossing at the Mexican border. There are hundreds of small, medium, and large companies doing it. It is a very complex process due the different stakeholders that participate.
I would like to add that we are looking very closely at increasing rail at the border. A new bridge has not been built between the two countries in over 100 years. There is one being done currently in Brownsville to bypass the downtown areas of the city of Matamoros and Brownsville. A rail bridge is being looked at in the Laredo area, and another rail type of system is being looked at in El Paso. We are looking at rail also, although by far, the majority of the freight is being carried by truck.
The next question is: is information on southbound travel times being captured by the system?
Currently, no; that is basically an issue of funding. We want to get there. We are going step-by-step as we go through this process as money is available to do the different parts of the system. We are excited the new project will actually be measuring southbound travel times for passenger vehicles. That is the first one of those we are getting done.
How do these monitoring systems compare to those used/to be used for ports' gates?
Juan Carlos Villa
You mean for maritime ports?
I believe that's what is meant.
Juan Carlos Villa
They are similar. When we did the technology assessment, we analyzed what's been used at the ports. We think the Port of LA is using RFID also to compare not crossing time or in and out time, but basically to control trucks going in and out of the port. The times are different because of the process. We could have another webinar discussing the crossing process at the northern and southern borders.
Juan, did you differentiate trucks according to the number of trailers for the travel time?
Juan Carlos Villa
I would like to thank CBP because they allowed us to install readers at the primary inspection booths. Now we can provide more accurate information on the wait time. But, if we have a reader installed at a FAST booth, we can at least differentiate the FAST trucks from the non-FAST trucks. For those of you who aren't aware of what FAST is, it means Free and Secure Trade, and it's a CBP program for trusted travelers. Most of the crossings have FAST booths. Once we have the volume and weigh-in motion information from DPS, we will also be able to identify the volume and how many trucks are loaded and how many are empty. That is all we can do at the moment. As Esther mentioned, one of the premises of the project was to keep the information confidential. We have the ID for a truck, but we don't know what's inside the truck, who the driver is, or the company it is.
Thank you. I will get some questions to Debbie so we can get through questions for all presenters. Debbie, how are you gearing up for 2014 and increased Panama Shipping and big containers ships?
How are we dealing with that?
It says how is Maryland gearing up for it?
Well, at the port, we have a public-private partnership with Ports of America. They are preparing to make the channel big enough and the depth large enough to handle the larger ships. Trying to relate that to the freight performance measures system, the agency has long captured performance measures and they use those to be able to identify where the needs were in order to handle the larger ships. They are reporting that as strategy in the Attainment Report. They are going to be ready to handle the 50 foot deep container ships when they start coming through the canal.
Thank you. Our next question for you is to clarify if mode is represented in your travel demand model. Do you also observe travel time?
Yes, it is. That goes through our State Highway Administration. Again, bringing in the modes subject matter expert, we were able to identify that through the Highway Administration.
Okay. Do you have a committee that meets regularly to monitor and update your freight strategies? Have the freight strategies been vetted through the private sector and public sector and have they gone through a public review process?
When we set up the plan, we had an inter-agency group that helped us develop the plan. We also had private sector stakeholders that vetted the plan and helped us select projects to include on our needs list. We have engaged the inter-agency, which is the modal group, throughout the process of implementing the plan and we regularly talk with stakeholders on elements of plan, whether it is a project or a policy question. We're even setting up freight performance measures. I didn't talk about that during my presentation, but we also went out to the private stakeholders to see it there was information and data that we could have available to report in our Attainment Report. It has been a collaborative effort. We couldn't have done it without the private stakeholders. When the attainment report goes to the public, we wanted to know what the public essentially wanted to know about freight. While we might not have that in this year's report, we will use that to be able to tell the audience what they want to know. They have been invaluable in setting up the plan, the project, the policies, and performance measures.
Thank you. The next question for you is: if it is public, where can I find the full set of measures?
The Attainment Report is on the website, www.maryland.gov. Then you can click on the Transportation Department. It's on the Office of Planning and Capital Programming web pages.
Would you please defined IPS?
Is that my question?
I believe so. I thought it came in during your presentation.
I apologize. If I happened to say IPS at some point, I misspoke. I was very careful in not using acronyms that were very specific to Maryland.
We will try to figure that one out. The next question for you: in Hong Kong, a single berth generated daily average truck movements of over 2,000 40-foot containers, including empties and loaded. Do your categories for turnarounds include integration with ship and rail turnarounds and whether turnaround counts both loaded and empty containers?
The turnaround is only at the Marine terminal. It doesn't include rail. We capture single moves and double moves. We don't identify it in the Attainment Report as empty or full, but we do identify single moves and double moves.
Okay. A few people said it might have been ITS that you said, in which case it would be intelligent transportation systems.
How are the measures and indicators used to identify freight needs, or, later, to set priorities among competing freight needs?
That is a good question. That is something the performance measures workgroup is establishing to set up processes. One of the ways will be in being a participant in setting up the 20 year vision and identifying goals and objectives that may or may not apply to freight projects. Now, the key indicators that the State Highway Administration developed, which had freight included this year, they used the indicators to measure strategies and successes and to identify where they can take some programs to see what's working. Those programs are managed by the State Highway Administration. They have the information that they can take to get a program refunded. In a general, how do we a pick a project and how do we pick a mode sense, the freight performance measures implementation team hasn't gotten to that point yet. We are really going to have to engage our stakeholders in those discussions.
I think this next question is for Ned. Correct me if I'm wrong. What is the cause of increasing discrepancy between revenue and expenditure in the Harbor Trust Fund?
Dr. Ned Mitchell
You'd probably have to ask somebody in the Administration. That's a trend that goes back to the 1990s. The revenues go into the general treasury, and decisions are made at higher levels for the balance of that fund to be held in the treasury until a later time. I guess, OMB [the Office of Management and Budget], for their part, would say that the Corps of Engineers can't articulate a compelling need or reason to release more funds. That is why we've come along with a tool like CPT to try to meet that need.
Thank you. Our next question is how do you account for latent demand that might not appear in historical data?
Dr. Ned Mitchell
I guess that means things that have happened in the last few weeks or months, or perhaps things that will happen in the near term that aren't going to show up in historical data. It [the Waterborne Commerce data] does have a fair amount of turnaround time. It typically takes a year to get the data ready for us to look at it. That is a good point; it's a good question. We are waiting on the 2010 data.
One avenue that we are pursuing involves the automatic identification system (AIS) at the Coast Guard, where I would like to correlate AIS data with historical Waterborne Commerce Data and come up with correlation metrics. The AIS feed is real-time. If we can tease out some of those factors and show how they hold up over time, we can that data as a proxy for the Waterborne Commerce Data for some real-time information. All of that is being talked about. That is research I would like to pursue. At the moment, it is a need within CPT.
Thank you. The next question is, as indicated, lots of this is for bulk carriers rather than containers on the highways. Will there be any significant increase in containers moving by waterway?
Dr. Ned Mitchell
Every forecast I have seen says yes. Certainly, with the expansion in the Panama Canal, I think that's envisioned to have a tremendous increase. I'm not an economist and I cannot speak as an authority on that issue, but all the indicators I have seen say yes.
Okay. Our local harbor has been too shallow for years due to the funding. Commercial tonnage is down due to the shallow draft, which has started cycle of appearing to be undesirable for the dredging expenditures. How does this tool take that into account?
Dr. Ned Mitchell
Excellent question, and it's exactly right. That is a cycle that smaller projects get into. It is a catch-22: they can't get funding because they don't have the tonnage, but they can't get the tonnage because they don't have funding. CPT has no formal way to handle that at the moment. We do have historical data going back to 2003. So, as long as the lack of dredging has occurred in that interim period, in theory, we can go in and compare total tonnage through the years with maintained depths through those years. There's no reason it couldn't be done. So, again, there's no formal mechanism with CPT that addresses that. However, if you think of it as a data retrieval tool, then it was intended exactly to help inform these sorts of studies going forward.
Could you run a query that would show the tonnage of coal generated from Wyoming that ends up on a ship? Could you use CPT to model a future change, such as more Wyoming produced coal is anticipated to be shipped out of the country due to various changes in policy?
Dr. Ned Mitchell
The short answer is no. That is an excellent lead into some of the work that we hope to embark upon in the next fiscal year. Essentially, take the same approach we have taken with CPT and expand it to include the intermodal freight network. That of course will necessitate our reaching out to some of the other players in the transportation research field. I know Oak Ridge National Labs has an intermodal freight model. As I learn more and more, it seems like there are quite a few people interested in exactly this sort of system, so we would like to have that precise capability to start to track origin to destination commodity routing across modes. I mentioned the TRB project that was just awarded and was set up to look exactly at these intermodal, system-level freight issues. So, hopefully we have some momentum started to get to something like what the question describes.
I will ask one more question. What is the current capacity of the Mississippi River to carry ships from the expanded Panama Canal?
Dr. Ned Mitchell
I can only speak to the maintained channel depth. That is at 45 feet. That is the authorized depth of the Mississippi River project. However, in the past fiscal year with the flooding, we had a lot of material and sediment coming down the river, so there were actually draft restrictions put on the lower Mississippi River at 43 feet. That had to do with federal outlays for dredging. Typically, they spend between $50 million and $80 million a year just getting the Southwest Pass cleared and the some of the channel crossings below Baton Rouge. The funds just were just not available this fiscal year to conduct that amount of dredging, so a 43 foot draft restriction was put into place. The Lower Miss is a 45 foot project, so anything deeper than that is going to have draft issues. There may be other landside capacity issues, but I'm not knowledgeable enough of those to say.
Thank you. There were two questions I didn't get to. What I will do is send that out via e-mail and try to get written responses to send out with the follow-up information. We are out of time for today. I want to thank all four of our presenters. Obviously by the number of questions, these were very interesting presentations. It generated a lot of discussion. I want to thank everybody in attendance as well.
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