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Literature Review of Organizational Structures and Finance of Multi-jurisdictional Initiatives and the Implications for Megaregion Transportation Planning in the U.S.

Section V. Opportunities and Challenges Of Megaregions

A. Fragmented Political Boundaries in Megaregions

Efforts to define and plan for megaregions as a strategy to face the challenges inherent in a global economy are taking place throughout the U.S. Many researchers are actively engaged in research and outreach efforts to examine the relationships, challenges, and opportunities in an evolving national framework for planning and public investment. However, the inherent challenges in the fragmented political and planning systems within megaregions have not been explicitly analyzed.

Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), a case of federal creation and empowerment of regional organizations, may become actors along with other private-sector players within a megaregional framework because they have been actively involved in planning activities, such as long-range transportation planning, and land use, infrastructure, and environmental planning, in core regions of megaregions. Also, MPOs can play an important role in steering county and local governments to achieve regional planning goals.

For example, to address regional transportation problems and meet increasing demand for transportation infrastructure at this scale, the Georgia General Assembly in 2010 passed legislation (The Transportation Investment Act of 2010; HB 277) that allows counties to establish 12 special tax districts throughout the state based on existing regional commission boundaries to create transportation Regional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes (Regional SPLOSTs). Once voters in each district, which consists of 10 to 18 counties, approve the regional SPLOSTs in July, 2012, a 1% sales tax will be levied over the next 10 years to support regional transportation projects (Ross et al., 2011). Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the MPO in the Atlanta metropolitan region, plays a leading role in this process for the region by facilitating a Regional Transportation Roundtable, which is comprised of every county chair and one mayor from each county and develops the project list for the regional SPLOSTs.

A state DOT is another major actor that has a capacity to bridge between local and federal agencies and coordinate multi-regional entities within its state boundaries. In megaregion planning, some state DOTs, such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida, have been involved in their megaregion studies. The fact that most megaregion boundaries in these states are bounded by their own state lines might motivate the agencies to get involved in megaregional studies. However, it is hard to find megaregional efforts of other state DOTs for which planning boundaries are in multi-state megaregions.

Figure 19 illustrates that 42 out 51 states (including the District of Columbia) encompass megaregions. However, not all those states are within the influence of megaregions. Among them, some states, such as Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah, and West Virginia, are only partially included in megaregions.

Figure 19 is a map showing the U.S. megaregions by state. They include , Ca. Az., Or., WA., UT., NV., TX., KS., LA., NM., AR., MS., OK., MI., IN., KY., FL., WI., WV., AL., GA., NC., SC., PA., VA., DL., MD., CT., MASS., NY., VT., NH., NJ., and RI.

Figure 19. Megaregion States

Table 7. Political boundaries by megaregions

Megaregion Number of States Metropolitan Planning Organization County Municipality
Number of MPOs Contiguous MPOs MPO clusters
No. Density No. Density
Arizona 3 6 3(50%) 1 15 1.52 218 22.09
California 2 19 19(100%) 1 53 3.77 1,004 71.38
Cascadia 2 14 6(43%) 2 42 6.01 606 86.66
Central Plains 4 11 3(27%) 1 96 14.33 914 136.39
DC Virginia 6 11 9(82%) 1 97 32.03 585 193.19
Florida 1 22 21(95%) 1 35 10.55 730 220.07
Midwest 11 73 51(70%) 9 359 17.99 4,353 218.08
Northeast 10 49 46(94%) 3 125 17.53 2,434 341.31
Piedmont 6 39 30(77%) 8 178 21.10 1,132 134.18
Texas 3 13 8(62%) 3 106 11.30 880 93.77
Non-megaregions - 124 - - 2,027 7.57 12,276 45.87

* A list of MPOs and their boundaries were obtained from FHWA.
**Density is calculated by dividing the number of jurisdictions (or organizations) by the area of each megaregion (10,000 sq. mi).

According to Table 7, although Florida is the only state where megaregion boundaries are totally within one state boundary, some other states, such as Arizona, California, and Texas, also can be considered states having the majority areas of their megaregions with their own state boundaries because the areas of their megaregions stretching to neighboring states are minimal. For example, the Arizona megaregion stretches from Washington County, Utah through most counties in Arizona to Hidalgo County, New Mexico, indicating that three states are interconnected within this megaregion. However, other than these two counties, all other counties within this megaregion are Arizona counties.

The Midwest and Northeast megaregions spread throughout 11 and 10 states, respectively, and the DC-Virginia and Piedmont megaregions are stretched to 6 states. The establishment of a megaregional coalition would be more difficult in situations which include higher numbers of states.

As of 2008, there were 381 MPOs in the U.S. Among them, 257 MPOs, which is approximately 67 percent of the total, were located within megaregions. Similar to the number of states, the Midwest, Northeast, and Piedmont megaregions are host to a large number of MPOs with 73, 49, and 39, respectively (Table 6).

In addition to the absolute number of organizations, the contiguity of MPOs' planning boundaries is also one important factor that can facilitate and promote a joint planning agreement among agencies (a list of all contiguous MPOs within megaregions is provided in Appendix 2). While those megaregions where a large number of MPOs are located have more contiguous MPOs, the California, Florida, and Northeast megaregions have the higher ratios of contiguous MPOs to the total number of MPOs within the regions. For example, all 19 MPOs in the California megaregion are geographically contiguous (less than 10 miles apart), 21 out of 22 in the Florida megaregion, and 46 out of 49 in the Northeast. The results provide an interesting finding. While the Northeast megaregion is the second largest fragmented megaregion in terms of the number of states and MPOs, most MPOs within this region are geographically contiguous, possibly making it easier to identify common interests. The DC-Virginia megaregion also has a higher rate of contiguity of MPOs (82%), and all of those contiguous MPOs are clustered, which may play a positive role in the future in bringing them together to accomplish megaregion level planning. The contiguity ratio of the MPOs in the state of Texas is slightly lower at 62 percent; however, they are relatively well clustered in three groups.

The Cascadia and Central Plain megaregions have fewer contiguous MPOs with 43 and 27 percent, respectively. Only 50 percent of the MPOs in the Arizona megaregion are contiguous. However, according to Figure 20, the three largest MPOs in the region, including, Maricopa Association of Governments, Pima Association of Governments, and Yuma MPO, are geographically contiguous. This might positively affect some of these MPOs enabling them to reach the joint planning agreement as discussed in Section IV.

The Piedmont and Midwest megaregions' contiguity rates of MPOs are moderate with 77 and 70 percent, respectively. However, the clusters of contiguous MPOs are dispersed throughout the regions (Figure 20). For example, there exist 9 clusters of MPOs in the Midwest, and 8 in the Piedmont. Gathering all those clusters together within the megaregions may be a challenge in megaregion planning, since each cluster may more easily develop their own common interest. The Midwest and Piedmont megaregions also appear to be most fragmented among the 10 megaregions in terms of the numbers of counties and municipalities within their boundaries. According to Table 7,359 counties and 4,353 municipalities are located within the Midwest megaregion, with 178 and 1,132, respectively, located in the Piedmont.

While megaregions are geographically large areas and differ in actual size, demographics, and competitive advantages, they are similar in that they are defined by agglomerations of related economic activity, transportation links, and cultural relationships. The power of a megaregion framework is that it can be adapted to different strategies depending on unique locational challenges to address current and future competitiveness.

Figure 20 is a map of MPO Boundaries within 10 megaregions. These megaregions include Arizona, California, Cascadia, the Texas Triangle, the Central Plains, Midwest, Northeast, DC-Virginia, Piedmont and Florida.

Figure 20. Metropolitan Planning Organization Boundaries within megaregions

B. Characteristics of Passenger Movement in Megaregions

1. Intercity passenger rail service by AMTRAK

During the twentieth century, the development of the highway and aviation networks in the U.S. has created the world's best transport systems. However, these advancements were also coupled with high oil dependence and consumption, intensifying greenhouse gas emissions and increasing traffic congestion. The development of the HSR rail program is linked to increased awareness of the need to increase accessibility and mobility, stimulate economic activity and development, and promote greater connectivity while reducing demand on the highway infrastructure.

This era of HSR in the United States is a resurgence of sorts following the less than successful attempt to promote a national passenger rail service with the introduction of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK) in 1971. AMTRAK is a quasi-public corporation chartered by Congress in 1971 to operate intercity passenger trains throughout the United States. This move by Congress came at a time when many of the US railroads, which operated both freight and rail trains, were experiencing great financial difficulties. In an effort to remove the highly unprofitable passenger rail services from the hands of the railroads and to continue to provide a needed public service to citizens, the government selected to take ownership of the passenger rail services.

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, the creation of AMTRAK was authorized by the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970. This Act requires that AMTRAK be operated and managed as a for-profit corporation with the purpose of providing a balanced transportation system by developing, operating, and improving intercity passenger rail services. The Act states that AMTRAK will not be an agency or establishment of the US Government. AMTRAK's major policies are established by its Board of Directors which comprises of nine members including The Secretary of Transportation who serves as an ex-officio member, the AMTRAK President serves as the Chairman of the Board, three members representing labor, State Governors and business, are appointed by the US President and confirmed by the Senate, two members represent commuter authorities and are selected by the President, and the two final members are selected by the Department of Transportation.

AMTRAK is managed by its President and Management Committee consisting of four Executive Vice Presidents. Eleven Vice-Presidents representing sales, transportation marketing, planning and development, labor relations, computer services, finance and treasurer, personnel, passenger and operating services, government affairs, operations and maintenance, and engineering report to the Executive Vice Presidents. AMTRAK has developed a regional and field structure in response to the need for decentralized functions related to passenger services and transportation operations. Field offices are located in major US cities such as Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Albany, Chicago, Boston, Seattle and Los Angeles. These field offices are responsible for the assignment and scheduling of employees; purchases, stowage and preparation of food and dining services;, maintenance and rehabilitation of rolling stock; and the daily operation functions such as cleaning and repairing train cars.

AMTRAK's basic route system has been established according to statutory guidelines or by specific statutory directives. The route system of AMTRAK covers approximately 23,000 route miles of which AMTRAK owns a right-of-way for 2,600 track miles. Trains are operated on the tracks of approximately twenty different privately owned railroads. AMTRAK compensates these railroads for the use of their private tracks and employee services including engineers, conductors, and maintenance personnel. Its capital improvements and almost half of its operating losses are supported principally through Federal financing, with State, regional and local financial support for some trains and stations. AMTRAK is required by Congress to earn revenues equivalent to at least fifty percent of its operating costs. The principle source of revenue for AMTRAK services comes from the sale of tickets for transportation and accommodations (49 CFR 700.2).

2. High-speed rail and megaregions

Since the AMTRAK was created by Congress in 1970, rail has remained a subsidiary form of transportation. Federal, state and local transportation funding has been biased towards road construction for the past few decades. This has impeded sufficient appropriations towards rail, and thus has rendered this travel mode an uncompetitive one.

Several potential national HSR corridors were designated under Section 1010 of ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act) and TEA (Transportation Equity Act-21st Century). In addition, a number of cities and regions are providing leadership and embracing HSR above and beyond the direction and resources that are being put forth by the national government. For example, regional agencies in the Western half of the United States have formed an alliance to develop a corridor between Denver and Los Angeles including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Other links are anticipated, but more importantly the initiative and decision to invest in HSR is being made across multiple jurisdictions which establishes a precedent for this type of common commitment to connectivity. In Washington state money is being invested in the Portland - Seattle 'Vancouver corridor and Florida is investing $2.1 billion in the Miami-Orlando-Tampa corridor. The South Eastern High-Speed Rail (SEHSR) project corridor is now approximately 168 miles and extends from Richmond, Virginia, to Raleigh, North Carolina. The initial project corridor extended from Petersburg, Virginia to Raleigh, North Carolina. Virginia Rail Enhancement Fund grants are being used to fund the extension.

The federal government has recently signaled its commitment to the development of HSR with the announcement of new real initiatives in 2010. Since the Obama administration allocated $8 billion in federal funds as a "down payment" on creating speedier passenger train service in 2010, the administration has proposed a six year plan dedicating $53 billion to continue construction of HSR networks.

The six year plan, recently announced in February 2011, classifies the type of HSR corridors into core express, regional, and emerging corridors as shown in Figure 21. Compared with the first grant allocation scheme in 2010, this recent movement along with the reallocation of 2 billion that was rejected by Florida focuses more on corridor wide planning in terms of a funding allocation. For example, approximately 85 percent of federal HSR investment is concentrated on six corridors, including Los Angeles to San Francisco, Seattle to Portland, Chicago to St. Louis, Chicago to Detroit, Northeast Corridor, and Charlotte to Washington, D.C (FRA, 2011). All but the Los Angeles to San Francisco corridor cross more than two states. In addition, several multi-state segments connecting Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and the Northeast Corridor have been singled out for multi-state planning.

However, several significant corridors, such as those in the Florida and Piedmont megaregions, are not included in either core express or regional corridors, partly because of the lack of efforts from corresponding states that are expected to show their long term visions for HSR networks. This implies that in order to develop and implement HSR plans at the megaregion scale, not only must the federal government take into account the trans-boundary interactions for HSR planning, but bottom up planning efforts, including local level initiatives and state-led planning, should also occur.

Figure 21 is a map of U.S. High Speed Rail overlaid on the 10 megaregions. Thick Orange and Red Lines indicate mainlines and thin black lines show the trunks. Thin Green and Blue Lines indicate highway connections.

Figure 21. U.S. Megaregions and U.S. DOT HSR plan

3. Air passenger travel and megaregions

To analyze the relationships between air travel and megaregions, Ross and Woo (2010) measured higher interactions between regions in terms of the intercity air passenger travel, which can address economic and social interactions between regions, using the 2007 airline origin and destination survey (DB1B) data, collected by the Office of Airline Information of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. They derived about 2 million domestic travel reports by carriers with less than 500 mile city pairs, and then converted the city pair data into the major 55 regions by region data.

Table 8 lists the top 60 region pairs in the air passenger travel data. These pairs clearly show that there exist hub metropolitan areas in each group of regions, and these hub regions provide the pivot of the entirety of air travel in surrounding areas. For example, among the top 60 region pairs, the New York metropolitan area connects to 9 regions within the 500 mile radius, followed by Chicago, Illinois 8 regions, Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas 6 regions, and Atlanta, Georgia and Los Angeles, California each connect to 5 regions. However, California and surrounding regions appear to be the largest region in terms of air travel demand with region pairs. Among the top links, Los Angeles, California has the first four major links to other regions, connecting to San Jose, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, Sacramento, California, and Phoenix, Arizona in terms of the volume of air passengers. Identifying corridors with the highest number of air travelers within megaregions can identify significant potential corridors where the priority of investment should be carefully considered to determine if improved passenger mobility might be accomplished through an alternative mode.

Table 8. Top 60 region pairs by air passenger travel (2007)

Rank Region Pair Passenger Rank Region Pair Passenger
1 Los Angeles, CA-San Jose, CA 820,762 31 Chicago, IL-Cleveland, OH 53,637
2 Los Angeles, CA-Las Vegas, NV 323,738 32 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-Kansas City, KS 52,120
3 Los Angeles, CA-Sacramento, CA 272,308 33 New York, NY-Columbus, OH 52,067
4 Los Angeles, CA-Phoenix, AZ 255,338 34 Boston, MA-Washington, DC 52,048
5 San Diego, CA-San Jose, CA 252,522 35 Boston, MA-Baltimore, MD 51,928
6 San Jose, CA-Las Vegas, NV 226,508 36 Chicago, IL-Nashville, TN 50,917
7 New York, NY-Boston, MA 171,718 37 Chicago, IL-Pittsburgh, PA 49,647
8 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-Houston, TX 149,243 38 Sacramento, CA-Portland, OR 47,744
9 Chicago, IL-Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 132,317 39 Philadelphia, PA-Pittsburgh, PA 47,473
10 Phoenix, AZ-Las Vegas, NV 105,107 40 Philadelphia, PA-Raleigh-Durham, NC 45,761
11 New York, NY-Raleigh-Durham, NC 89,165 41 Baltimore, MD-Detroit, MI 42,178
12 Chicago, IL-Detroit, MI 88,512 42 Las Vegas, NV-Salt Lake City, UT 41,977
13 San Diego, CA-Sacramento, CA 87,170 43 Los Angeles, CA-Tucson, AZ 40,574
14 San Diego, CA-Las Vegas, NV 82,746 44 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-New Orleans, LA 39,785
15 San Diego, CA-Phoenix, AZ 78,829 45 Atlanta, GA-Raleigh-Durham, NC 37,938
16 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-San Antonio, TX 76,319 46 New York, NY-Rochester, NY 33,305
17 Chicago, IL-Kansas City, KS 75,125 47 Miami, FL-Jacksonville, FL 32,903
18 New York, NY-Buffalo, NY 73,334 48 New York, NY-Richmond, VA 30,705
19 Atlanta, GA-Orlando, FL 71,890 49 Miami, FL-Orlando, FL 30,307
20 Chicago, IL-St. Louis, MO 68,493 50 Detroit, MI-St. Louis, MO 29,210
21 Houston, TX-New Orleans, LA 67,935 51 New York, NY-Washington, DC 29,004
22 New York, NY-Pittsburgh, PA 61,221 52 Baltimore, MD-Charlotte, NC 28,981
23 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-Austin, TX 59,458 53 Atlanta, GA-Memphis, TN 28,160
24 New York, NY-Cleveland, OH 58,648 54 Baltimore, MD-Buffalo, NY 27,792
25 Boston, MA-Philadelphia, PA 58,009 55 Detroit, MI-Philadelphia, PA 27,774
26 Chicago, IL-Columbus, OH 55,750 57 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-Tulsa, OK 27,037
27 Denver, CO-Salt Lake City, UT 55,267 58 Atlanta, GA-Richmond, VA 26,977
28 Miami, FL-Tampa, FL 54,808 59 Orlando, FL-Charlotte, NC 26,833
29 Sacramento, CA-Las Vegas, NV 54,797 60 Las Vegas, NV-Tucson, AZ 26,724
30 Atlanta, GA-Tampa, FL 54,039

Source: The Airline Origin and Destination Survey (DB1B) Data (The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2007)

C. Characteristics of Freight Movement in Megaregions

1. Highway and Rail Capacity

Transportation investment must be driven by a compelling need given the large capital costs associated with building highways, rail infrastructure and port facilities. Domestic and global businesses rely on efficient and predictable freight movement to be successful. In order for Megaregions to be economically successful, adequate freight transportation infrastructure is imperative.

In a 2005 study, Cambridge Systematics found that since 1980, total vehicle-miles travelled has increased 95% while lane-miles has only increased 4%, indicating that much more vehicle traffic is using the same infrastructure (Cambridge Systematics, 2005). Projections indicate that vehicle miles traveled will continue to increase as a result of population growth and economic development, which will in turn create greater demand for freight capacity. The Federal Highway Administrations expects that future revenues will only be able to maintain current roadways and not add significant capacity (Cambridge Systematics, 2005). Furthermore, congestion costs, especially in urban areas such as the megaregions, will continue to rise as demand increases but capacity remains relatively flat (Hillestad, Van Roo, and Yoho, 2009).

A 2007 study by Cambridge Systematics for the Association of American Railroads (AAR) estimates that as of 2007, 88% of railroads were under capacity, 9% at or near capacity and 3% over capacity. However, given projected freight rail demands, by 2035 45% of railroads will be under capacity, 25% at or near capacity, and 30% over capacity (AAR, 2008). If transportation investment in railroad capacity does not occur, the freight demand is likely to shift to truck transport, where there is no additional capacity.

2. Major Freight Corridors in Megaregions

a) The Arizona megaregion

The Arizona megaregion consists of two major metropolitan centers in three states in the southwestern United States. The core city of the region is Phoenix and the region spans from the Southwestern corner (Washington County) of Utah to the Southwestern corner (Hidalgo County) of New Mexico with the major concentration of activity occurring between Phoenix and Tucson (Figure 22).

Figure 22 is a map of the Arizona megaregions. It includes the freeway overlay of I-10, I-17, I-40 and the cities of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson and Mesa.

Figure 22. The Arizona megaregion

Metropolitan centers in the region are economically linked to one another because they are specialized in different functions. Because the core areas within the region are linked economically, it is important that freight be able to move efficiently between the metropolitan centers. Figure 23 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. The I-10 corridor is the primary transportation link between the region's two metro-centers and is projected to experience a 273% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. Commodities in the region overwhelmingly move by truck rather than any other mode. For example, more than 96 percent of freight moved by truck in 2002, while the rail movement shared less than 1 percent.

The majority of freight produced in the region remains in the region, and therefore it is necessary to have enough capacity to move freight on key corridors in the region. The I-10 corridor is critical to the economic growth and success of the Arizona megaregion, as the overwhelming majority of freight travels along the corridor. Congestion on the corridor due to freight transport will hinder the region's ability to interact economically and is likely to slow the growth of the region. Increasing freight rail capacity along the corridor is an important and sustainable investment to facilitate the movement of goods in the region.

Figure 23 shows two maps of Freight movement in 2002 and estimates for 2035 for Arizona. The main freeway system is overlaid.
Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF).
Figure 23. Change of freight movement in key corridors of the Arizona

b) The California megaregion

The California megaregion consists of five important metropolitan areas in terms of freight movement. The four metropolitan centers of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Francisco/San Jose (Bay Area) are located in the State of California while the metropolitan area of Las Vegas, Nevada is also included in the California megaregion. The four Californian metropolitan centers are located on or nearby the I-5 corridor (Figure 24).

Figure 24 is a map of the California megaregion. The map includes freeway overlays of I-10, SR 99, Hwy 180, SR 14, SR 58, I-40, I-8, and the cities of Long Beach, San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Las Vegas and San Jose.

Figure 24.The California megaregion

The interaction between the metropolitan centers in the region is amplified by the distribution of commodities produced in the region. Based on the FAF data, the region is projected to produce 2.3 billion tons of commodities valued at $4.8 trillion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035, ranking it the third highest among the ten megaregions. The intra-regional market is the largest for commodities produced in the California megaregion. For example, 84 percent of the commodities, measured by weight (41 percent by value), are estimated to stay within the region.

Figure 25 depicts the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. The I-5 corridor is the most critical transportation link in the region and is projected to experience a 179% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. The I-15 corridor connecting the metropolitan center of Los Angeles and Las Vegas is projected to experience an increase in freight of 310% between 2002 and 2035 while some other corridors rank similarly high. Commodities in the California megaregion are also exclusively moved by truck. Less than 1 percent of freight moved by rail within the region and over 90 percent of freight moved by truck in 2002. The amount of freight moved by rail is projected to remain less than 1 percent by 2035. While freight movement by truck is estimated to increase over 87 percent of total commodity flows; its net increase is projected by 138 percent.

Since the highest share of commodities produced in the region stays in the region, it is crucial to provide enough capacity to move freight on key corridors in the region, in particular the I-5 corridor. Also, because the expansion of capacity on this corridor is not unlimited, it is essential to develop alternative transportation systems which can accommodate a certain share of the additional freight projected to be moved in the California megaregion. Development of a faster, more efficient and more environmentally friendly rail network would help mitigate congestion on the I-5 corridor that will inevitably emerge otherwise.

Figure 25 shows two maps of the California megaregion major freight corridors for 2002 and estimates for 2035. The overlay of the major Freight Corridors changes color and thickness.  1-5000 Tons, thin Green Line, 5000-15,000 Thin Yellow Line, 15000-25000 Thicker Orange Line, 25000 or thicker Red Line.
Source: FHWA (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF).
Figure 25. Change of freight movement in key corridors of the California

c) The Cascadia megaregion

The Cascadia Megaregion consists of two metropolitan centers in two states in the Northwestern United States. The core city of the region is Seattle and the region spans from Seattle in the North to Portland, OR in the South along the Interstate 5 corridor. Other minor markets in the region include Eugene, OR, Salem, OR, Spokane, WA and Tacoma, WA (Figure 26).

Figure 26 is a map of the Cascadia megaregion. It includes an Overlay of the major Highway Corridors that links Seattle to Portland and incudes SR 8, US 12, SR 167, SR 104, SR-190, I-182, SR 184.

Figure 26. The Cascadia megaregion

The I-5 corridor is the most critical transportation linking the Cascadia megaregion and is projected to experience a 487% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. As of 2002, approximately 95 percent of freight moved by truck within the region and less than 1 percent by rail. This trend is expected to continue with estimates of less than 2 percent of freight by rail and 94 percent by truck in 2035.

Metropolitan centers within the Cascadia megaregion rely on economic interaction with other cities in the region. The majority of freight produced in the region remains in the region, and therefore, it is necessary to have enough capacity to move freight on key corridors in the region. The I-5 corridor is critical to the economic growth and success of the Cascadia megaregion because the overwhelming majority of freight travels along the corridor. Congestion on the corridor due to freight transport will hinder the region's ability to interact economically, and is likely to slow the growth of the region.

Figure 27 is two maps showing the major freight corridors in Cascadia Region for 2002 and estimates for 2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)

Figure 27. Change of freight movement in key corridors of the Cascadia megaregion

d) The Central Plains megaregion

The Central Plain Megaregion consists of three metropolitan centers in two states in the central United States. The core city of the region is Tulsa and the region spans from Oklahoma City, OK in the west to Kansas City, KS in the east along the Interstate 35 corridor. Tulsa, OK is included in the region along the Interstate 44 corridor north of Oklahoma City, OK (Figure 28).

Figure 28 is a map of the Central Plains megaregion. The freeway system is overlaid and includes I-235, SR 135, US 412, US 64, SR 51, US 62, I-44, I-540, I-229, SR 152, Hwy 129. The freeway links the cities of Kansas City and Oklahoma City.

Figure 28. The Central Plains megaregion

The region is projected to produce 641 million tons of commodities valued at $448 billion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035, and 53 percent of the value of commodities (64 percent by weight) remains in the region. Figure 29 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. The Interstate 44 corridor is the most critical transportation link in the region and is projected to experience a 194% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. To a lesser extent, the Interstate 35 corridor is also expected to require increased capacity.

In 2002, 24% of freight, measured by weight, moved by rail within the region and over 66% of freight moved by truck. The share of rail in this region is relatively higher than other megaregions. However, by 2035, the amount of freight moved by rail is projected to decrease to just over 17%, while freight movement by truck is expected to increase to over 73%.

Figure 29 is an image of two maps showing the major freight corridors in the Central Plains for 2003 and 2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)
Figure 29. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the Central Plains

e) DC-Virginia megaregion

The DC-Virginia megaregion consists of four metropolitan areas which are located in the District of Columbia and the States of Virginia and Maryland. The main corridors of the regions are the I-95 and the I-64.

Figure 30 is a map of the DC - Virginia megaregion. The freeway system is overlaid and includes US 301, US 17, SR 181, SR 7, I-270, US 360, SR 207, US 13, SR 5, I-66, SR 4, US 1, US 60. The freeways link Washington, Baltimore, Richman, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

Figure 30. The DC-Virginia megaregion

The DC-Virginia megaregion is projected to produce 0.77 billion tons of commodities valued at $0.67 trillion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035. With respect to weight, 71% of the commodities are estimated to stay within the DC-Virginia megaregion, while this number is 61% with respect to value. This shows that the intra-regional market is clearly the most important for commodities produced in the DC-Virginia megaregion.

According to Figure 31, the I-95 and I-64 corridors are the most critical transportation links in the megaregion. The I-95 corridor is projected to experience a 208% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone while the corresponding Figure for the I-64 corridor is 155%. by 2035, the amount of freight moved by truck is projected to decrease slightly to about 86 percent of total commodity flows (from over 90 percent as of 2002), while the shares of freight movement by pipeline and water increase.Figure 31 is an image of two fright maps of the DC- Virginia megaregion 2002-2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)
Figure 31. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the DC-Virginia

f) The Florida megaregion

The Florida megaregion consists of four metropolitan centers in Peninsular Florida. The core city of the region is Miami, and the region spans from Jacksonville, FL in the north, to Miami in the south, and Tampa and Orlando in Central Florida. The main transportation corridors in the Florida megaregion include I-95 between Jacksonville and Miami along Florida's east coast, I-75 connecting Atlanta to Tampa and Miami via Florida's west coast and across Florida, and I-95/I-4 connecting Jacksonville and Tampa to Orlando.

Figure 32 is a map of the Florida megaregion. The major freeway system is overlaid and includes SR 417, I-95, I-4, SR 91, I-75, US 127, SR 91 and links Tampa, St Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami.

Figure 32. The Florida megaregion

The region is projected to produce 667 million tons of commodities valued at just over one trillion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035. Eighty-two percent of commodities, measured by weight, are estimated to remain in the region, while 46 percent of the value of commodities by value is expected to stay within the region, meaning that heavier commodities will remain in the region.

Figure 33 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. The I-4 corridor is the most critical transportation link in the region and is projected to experience a 240% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. The second most important corridor is I-75 between Tampa and Miami. All of Florida's corridors are expected to more than double their freight demand.

Figure 33 is an image of two maps of freight movement of the Florida megaregion 2002-2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)
Figure 33. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the Arizona

g) The Midwest megaregion

The Midwest megaregion consists of thirteen metropolitan centers in nine states in the north and central United States. The core city of the region is Chicago and the region spans from Minneapolis, MN in the west to Pittsburgh, PA in the east along the Interstate 90 and 80 corridors. Saint Louis, MO is also included in the region along the Interstate 55 corridor south of Chicago. Other major metropolitan centers include Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, Dayton, OH, Detroit, MI, Grand Rapids, MI, Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, and Milwaukee, WI (Figure 34).

Figure 34 is a map of the Midwest megaregion. It includes an overlay of the freeway system including US 52, SR 72, SR 29, US 51, I-39, US 141, I-88, US 27, SR 60, I-280, I-57, US 31, I-20, I-7,I-57, US 23, I-380, I-155, I-172, US 41, I-70, SR 80, SR 900. It connects Madison, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, St. Paul, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Akron, Lexington and Toledo.
Figure 34. The Midwest megaregion

Figure 35 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. The Interstate 94 corridor is the most critical transportation linking the region and is projected to experience a 461% increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. To a lesser extent, the Interstate 64 corridor is also expected to require increased capacity with a projected increase of 325%. Based on the FAF data, more than 3% of freight moved by rail within the region in 2002 and over 86% of freight moved by truck. Furthermore, by 2035, the amount of freight moved by rail is projected to remain just over 3%, while freight movement by truck is expected to increase to over 87%.

Figure 35 is an image of two maps of freight movement in the Midwest Region 2002-2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)
Figure 35. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the Midwest

h) The Northeast megaregion

The Northeast Megaregion (NE) consists of six metropolitan centers in nine states in the northeastern United States. The core city of the region is New York City (NYC), and the region spans from Buffalo and Rochester, NY in the west to Boston, MA in the east along the Interstate 90 (I-90) corridor, and to Philadelphia, PA in the south along the Interstate 95 (I-95) corridor. The region is also served by the Interstate 87 (I-87) corridor between NYC and Albany, NY (Figure 36).

Figure 36 is a map of the Northeast megaregion. The freeway system is overlaid and includes SR 61, US 13, SR 47 A, US 301, US 1, I-83, US 15, SR 184, SR 387, SR 446, SR 444, I195, SR 15, I-790, SR 415, SR 17, I-291, C45, SR 8, SR 9, I-395, SR 3, US 6 and links Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Rochester.

Figure 36. The Northeast megaregion

The region is projected to produce 1.26 million kilotons of commodities valued at $2.36 trillion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035. According to the analysis of the FAF data, 74 percent of the freight tonnage, representing only 46 percent of its monetary value, remains in the region. A surprisingly large portion of the commodity value leaves the region via air transport from New York City, indicating a production of high-value, low-weight goods, such as precision instruments. In either case, a plurality of commodities remains within the megaregion itself.

Figure 37 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. As can be seen, the freight movement increases only marginally in the region. The most significant increase (137 percent) occurs along I-95 from New York to Boston. Meanwhile, I-90 from Buffalo to Rochester to Albany barely increases, at less than 10 percent. Other corridors, including I-87 and portions of I-95 and I-90, see modest increases of 20-50 percent. This may be partly due to the region's Rust Belt nature. These formerly industrial cities, particularly Buffalo and Rochester, are in decline as manufacturing leaves. Meanwhile, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia pursue commercial service economies which move less freight. Increased movement to and from Albany indicates its increasing importance as a regional center, perhaps due to geographic proximity to Boston and New York, which experience the most growth.

The most critical of these corridors is the I-95 corridor from New York City to Boston. Improved highways and new freight rail will be absolutely essential. It will also become the second busiest corridor, behind I-95 from New York City to Philadelphia, which will see a modest 20 percent increase to 37,800 ktons. The I-87 corridor from New York to Albany, while much less trafficked, will see a 41 percent increase to 13,700 ktons and thus also need enhancement.

This image is of two maps of freight movement in the Northeast megaregion 2002-2035 The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)
Figure 37. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the Northeast

i) The Piedmont megaregion

The Piedmont megaregion consists of eight metropolitan centers in five states in the southeastern United States. The core city of the region is Atlanta and the region spans from Birmingham, AL in the west to Raleigh-Durham, NC in the east along the Interstate 85 corridor. Nashville, TN is also included in the region along the I-75 corridor north of Atlanta. Other major metropolitan centers include Charlotte, NC, Greenville, SC, Spartanburg, SC, and Greensboro, NC (Figure 38).

This is a map of the Piedmont megaregion and includes an overlay of the freeway system connecting Nashville, Greensboro, Raleigh, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Atlanta. It includes I-85,I-565, US 60, US 19, I-75, I-20, I59, I-85 US 76

Figure 38. The Piedmont megaregion

The region is projected to produce 1.5 billion tons of commodities valued at $1.7 trillion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035. Similar to other megaregions, approximately 60 percent of freight, measured by weight, is expected to stay in the region. As of 2002, less than 1 percent of freight moved by rail within the region and over 89 percent of freight moved by truck. This trend is expected to continue through 2035. The amount of freight moved by rail is projected to remain less than 1 percent while freight movement by truck is expected to increase to over 92 percent.

Figure 39 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. The I-85 corridor is the most critical transportation link in the region and is projected to experience a 245 percent increase in demand for freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone. To a lesser extent, the I-75 corridor is also expected to require increased capacity.

This image is of two maps for freight movement in the Piedmont Region 2002-2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)
Figure 39. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the Piedmont

j) The Texas megaregion

The Texas megaregion consists of four metropolitan centers contained almost entirely within the state of Texas, with the exception of a few counties in Oklahoma and Louisiana. The core city of the region is Houston, TX, which together with Dallas, TX to the north along the Interstate 45 (I-45) corridor and San Antonio, TX along the Interstate 10 (I-10) corridor to the southwest, forms the Texas Triangle. Additionally, the fourth metropolitan center, Austin, TX is located along the Interstate (I-35) corridor, which connects Dallas and San Antonio to complete the Texas triangle (Figure 40).

Figure 40 is a map of the Texas megaregion. The map has the major freeways overlaid and includes SR 1604, I-37, I-35 and I-45. It links San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

Figure 40. The Texas megaregion

The region is projected to produce 2.03 million kilotons of commodities valued at $2.8 trillion dollars (2002 dollars) by 2035. While the vast majority of the tonnage remains in the megaregion (67 percent), only 40 percent of the value of commodities remains in the region, indicating that bulkier goods remain within the region, while higher-value goods travel further. In either case, the megaregion itself represents a larger commodity market than any other destination.

Figure 41 shows the demand for freight capacity in terms of tonnage for the key freight corridors in the region in 2002 and as projected for 2035. In total, the region is projected to experience a tremendous 313% increase in demand for total freight capacity by 2035 from intra-region commodity movement alone, much greater growth than many other megaregions. The I-45 corridor from Dallas to Houston and the I-10 corridor between San Antonio and Houston are the most critical transportation links in the region, both growing to over 50,000 ktons of freight, but I-35 is nearly as important, with the segment from Austin to San Antonio expected to handle 48,000 ktons of freight, predominantly by truck. Of note, though there is no direct Interstate highway connection, freight movement from Austin to Houston will reach nearly 23,000 kilotons by 2035.

Movement of freight by rail garnered a 3.4 percent share of freight movement within the region in 2002, while over 70 percent of freight moved by truck. More than 20% of freight moved by pipeline, due to the larger quantity of oil and natural gas in the region. These trends are expected to continue through 2035, with the amount of freight moved by rail rising to just over 5 percent while freight movement by truck will decrease slightly to 63 percent.

Forming a triangle, the I-10, I-35, and I-45 corridors are all expected to see a roughly three-fold increase in freight movement, primarily by truck. The Houston-Dallas I-45 corridor will see the greatest increase at 387% to nearly 53,000 ktons, while the Houston-San Antonio I-10 corridor will see the greatest total freight tonnage at over 61,000 ktons in 2035. Improving each of these interstates is crucial to prevent congestion, which would limit growth. However, tripling capacity on these highways may be nearly impossible. Thus, increasing freight rail capacity along each of these three corridors is also an important and sustainable investment to facilitate the movement of goods in the region, as it would likely help alleviate congestion on the highways. Currently, there is no Interstate linkage between Austin and Houston, yet this is set to become one of the busiest freight movements, with 23,000 ktons by 2035. Implementing rail and or improved highways along this corridor could free capacity on other corridors.

Figure 41 is two maps of the Texas megaregion freight movement 2002-2035. The line color and thickness change from thin Yellow in 2002 to thick Red in 2035. The legend shows thin Dark Green 1-5000 Tons, 5000-15000 Tons thin Light Green, thicker Orange 15000- 25000 and thick Red 25000 tons or more.

Source: FHWA. (2006). Freight Analysis Framework (FAF)

Figure 41. Changes of freight movement in key corridors of the Texas

3. Summary of freight trends in megaregions

Freight transportation investment should be focused on corridors with the greatest potential return on investment and with the greatest probability of future congestion. Because the majority of freight movement by weight occurs within the megaregions, the highest priority is placed on vital corridors connecting the various metro-centers.

Current projections from the FAF modal analysis indicate that if current trends continue, an overwhelming majority of future freight transportation in megaregions is expected to be handled by truck, while there will be small variations by megaregion. However, highway capacity is inherently limited by physical and other practical constraints. Rail may provide a less expensive, more environmentally-friendly, and more fuel-efficient alternative by reducing the dependence on cars (Litman, 2011; Ross, 2011). Complementing existing highway corridors with new or enhanced rail lines will increase total freight capacity and potentially reduce demand on congested highways. Meanwhile, improvements such as intermodal terminals and computerized traffic control will further increase rail efficiency and enable viable just-in-time solutions

Updated: 09/19/2013
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