Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Talking Freight

Improving Border Efficiency Transcript

August 16th, 2006 Talking Freight Transcript

Jennifer Seplow:
Good afternoon or good morning, depending on where you are. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Seplow and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Improving Border Efficiency. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Today we'll have four presenters, Tiffany Melvin of North America's SuperCorridor Coalition, Hugh Conroy of the Whatcom Council of Governments, Dan Murray of the American Transportation Research Institute, and Tony Shallow of Transport Canada.

Tiffany Melvin is the Executive Director of North America's SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc. Tiffany is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, holding a Bachelor of Business degree in International Business, with minors in Marketing and Spanish. She received her Juris Doctor degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, in 1995.

She was hired by the I-35 Corridor Coalition in 1996 to become their Executive Director and to incorporate the coalition to a 501(c)(6) corporation which then became North America's SuperCorridor Coalition, Inc. (NASCO).

She directs all aspects of the international trade corridor initiative. Tiffany is responsible for government and media relations, lobbying efforts, legislative initiatives, and special projects. She manages fund-raising and membership activities in both the private and public sectors, and she serves as the international representative of NASCO.

In addition to her responsibilities at NASCO, Tiffany serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

Hugh Conroy is a project manager at the Whatcom Council of Governments, a U.S. metropolitan planning organization in Bellingham, Washington. For over nine years, his work has centered on the Whatcom Council of Governments' lead-agency role with the International Mobility and Trade Corridor Project (IMTC) - a binational, cross-border transportation planning coalition.

Ongoing regional coordination and project-delivery through the IMTC Project have covered a variety of United States-Canada cross-border trade and travel issues. Public and private entities, working through the IMTC, continue to identify priorities for the regional border gateway, plan improvements, assemble project funding partnerships, and cooperatively oversee implementation on several initiatives.

Hugh received a master's degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Dan Murray is the Vice President of Research for the American Transportation Research Institute. ATRI -- the 501(c)3 not-for-profit research arm of the trucking & freight industries -- conducts research, analysis and evaluation on a broad range of transportation issues including technology, safety & human factors, security, environmental factors, and economic analyses.

Mr. Murray has directed numerous national research projects sponsored by agencies such as FHWA, FMCSA, CBP, USDA and FAA.

He is a present or former member of several national academy security committees; TRB freight committees; a board member of the Midwest Transportation Policy Institute, U of Minnesota ITS Institute and the Minnesota DOT Guidestar Board. He is also a past board member of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan planning organization (MPO) representing freight interests. Tony Shallow is a Senior Economist in the Coordination & Policy Advice Branch of Transport Canada, Ontario Region. Tony holds a BA in Political Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland, an MNRM from the University of Manitoba, and an MA in Economics from York University. He first joined Transport Canada in 1982, working consecutively for Airports Group, Canadian Coast Guard, and Policy Group in St. John's Newfoundland.

On transferring to Ontario region in fall 1995, he was afforded the opportunity to cultivate a specialized, functional interest in Canada/U.S. transportation/trade corridors and Canada-U.S. gateway management issues. The Border Wait-Time R&D initiative is the latest outgrowth of those efforts.

Tony is an active member of the Canada/US Transportation Border Working Group (TBWG) and an Associate member of the Eastern Border Transportation Coalition (EBTC) & Can/Am BTA.

I'd now like to go over a few logistical details prior to starting the seminar. Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the smaller text box underneath the chat area on the lower right side of your screen. Please make sure you are typing in the thin text box and not the large white area. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. Once we get through all of the questions that have been typed in, the Operator will give you instructions on how to ask a question over the phone. If you think of a question after the seminar, you can send it to the presenters directly, or I encourage you to use the Freight Planning LISTSERV. The LISTSERV is an email list and is a great forum for the distribution of information and a place where you can post questions to find out what other subscribers have learned in the area of Freight Planning. If you have not already joined the LISTSERV, the web address at which you can register is provided on the slide on your screen.

Finally, I would like to remind you that this session is being recorded. A file containing the audio and the visual portion of this seminar will be posted to the Talking Freight Web site within the next week. Due to the size of the file, recorded files are available for viewing/listening purposes only and cannot be saved to your own computer. We encourage you to direct others in your office that may have not been able to attend this seminar to access the recorded seminar.

The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar will also be available within the next week. I will notify all attendees of the availability of the PowerPoints, the recording, and a transcript of this seminar.

We are now going to wait a few minutes until 1:00 to give others a chance to join us. At 1:00 we'll start with the first presentation of the seminar. So, Operator, please put everyone back into hold at this time.

It's now about 1:00 and I see that many others have joined in so let's begin. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is Improving Border Efficiency. Our first presenter will be Tiffany Melvin of North America's SuperCorridor Coalition.

If you think of questions during this presentation or during any of the other presentations, please type them into the chat area on the screen. Questions will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar.

Tiffany Melvin:
Thank you so much for letting me present today. This is new for me, usually I can see and hear my audience, but I'll try to do my best!

NASCO is North American's SuperCorridor Coalition. NASCO is a tri-national, non-profit, trade and transportation coalition committed to maximizing the efficient and secure movement of goods along the existing network of transportation systems running north-south through the central U.S., Canada and Mexico.

NASCO utilizes strategic planning, coordination, advocacy and education to encourage best practices and cooperation that will boost economic activity and support needed infrastructure improvements, technological innovations and environmental initiatives along the NASCO Corridor. Our efforts will create job opportunities and enhance the well being of workers, residents and consumers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

We are a non-governmental agency that is stimulating the public and private sectors to work with a common voice to address critical national and international trade, transportation, security and environmental issues.

NASCO's strategy includes supporting and facilitating any projects or initiatives that focus on enhancing the efficiency, security and safety of transportation, trade processing and logistics systems along the NASCO Corridor.

NASCO's goals include the development of safe and secure tracking processes, data aggregation, and logistics systems to enhance Homeland Security while also facilitating tri-national trade.

The map you see is the home page on our website. NASCO is more than just a "corridor" coalition. We have gone beyond that to include all modes of transportation, economic development issues, environmental initiatives, inland port coordination, technology integration and work with the universities and educational institutions along the NASCO Corridor. So, while I-35, I-29 and I-94 (and the significant connectors to those highways in Canada and Mexico) are the backbone of our organization, we have gone beyond just infrastructure. The faded yellow arrows represent movement along the infrastructure, and the "swath" or "corridor zone" we consider our focus area.

The NASCO "trade corridor zone" encompasses Interstate Highways 35, 29 and 94, the significant east/west connectors to those highways, as well as rail, inland ports and deep-water ports impacting trade flow in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

NASCO's tri-national membership includes departments of transportation from the U.S. states along the central north-south trade zone, inland port authorities, and other public and private sector entities related to trade, transportation and supply chains.

These are our executive officers. They exactly represent the geographic scope of our corridor. We currently have 26 Board members. Some trade coalitions are focused on one region, city, state, but NASCO makes decisions on a corridor-wide basis. NASCO works with the board that governs the body on a national and international perspective for each country.

This is just to show our Corridor Congressional Caucus - we currently have representatives from Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Oklahoma we are working on. They play a leadership role for us in Congress. It's great to have their support for obvious reasons.

So, what does NASCO do? Encourage "best practices", technological innovations, strategic planning. We consider new ways to coordinate, always trying to stay out front. We have special projects I will get into a bit later. We want to make sure the success we have had in the United States is passed on to Canada, Mexico, independently for their own countries, as well as working in the North American Continent. All the things we are doing are unique to our organization. Coordination and the elimination of duplication of efforts are core principles of NASCO. We will talk about that more later on too. Relating to advocacy, we have a team in Washington D.C. helping with the legislative efforts. We are developing an educational consortium, but I use "education" here to mean that we educate people on the importance of transportation. It's a well-known fact very few people in the world understand the importance of transportation on their life. This audience understands, but when I have an audience different from you guys, I tell my "toothbrush fairy" story - you go into a convenience store, grocery store, there's not a tooth brush fairy that comes in every night to stock the toothbrushes. Everything you see, touch, feel, when you are at your office, lamp, desk, everything got there on a truck, train, ship or plane. So did that toothbrush in the convenience store. We are trying to coordinate supply chain visibility, so the tooth brush you buy every day, is there on time, safely, securely, that kind of thing; daily logistic systems, our NAFTRACS project -- I will talk about later.

We're also a clearinghouse of information. Our NASCO members are all members of other organizations all over North America, so we are always learning new things, passing on information, how what we learned from someone in Iowa benefits someone in Oklahoma, Mexico, Canada. The staff here at NASCO focuses on corridor-wide effort. We do events that I will talk about a bit more, as well.

What do our members get? I think something like a trade corridor coalition is difficult to understand, not very tangible, hard to get your arms around. One joke I always say, when members join they pay dues and first thing they get to do is go to work. We are not a consulting firm; you don't get your results on a silver platter. Our members are true leaders in the community and in NASCO. You get involved in NASCO to make the contacts, to learn from them, and to lead the way in solving critical transportation issues we face as a nation and as North America. People are catching on. We have been around 12 years now. I used to get laughed at, "we don't need you, we're fine on our own, etc." People now understand the importance of working together, positioning ourselves in the global market, sharing resources when funding is scarce. Our members are true leaders and specialists in advocacy efforts, projects, and various initiatives. Private sector members join for business opportunities. We have events, get our members in touch with each other and often business development comes out of it. To support the project, we need to know what keeps them at the table. You meet other members, face to face, the excitement, energy - being a tri-national corridor-wide organization - the excitement and commitment is tangible. There's no other organization out there like ours. We feel like we are being innovative, taking the charge -- there is a lack of a national strategy for global positioning. I think it is getting better, but we have been at this a while now and we have been successful in bringing together a diverse group of leaders and turning them into a team focus on the North American economy.

Challenges? We are a fluid organization - by fluidity, I mean we have to sometimes fly by the seat of our pants, we are always learning, our members cover a large area, as we bring on members they learn something new, come back, tell the staff. We get out the information, and sometimes we go "Stop, wait a minute. We were on this track, now we have learned this, so we need to refine." We are constantly refining, evaluating and growing. When you have different priorities from different members, some members compete. At NASCO we use the word "coopetition". Members may compete but when you get to the NASCO room you leave that behind and work together. We are stronger together than apart. A member with a high priority will call and say they need this done immediately, but something else we are doing is also a high priority, so trying to prioritize what we are doing now, where to focus, as a non-profit we have a small staff so that's a challenge. And there is a trust factor, you have Mexican and Canadian members, it's a big investment, doing business with other countries, establishing connections, etc. Because we are a true corridor-wide coalition, with a corridor-wide approach, we are different from other trade organization. And it makes people from diverse geographic regions feel more comfortable doing business with NASCO because of our different approach. There is trust there, as well. People like to do business with their friends. Our members always think, particularly the NASCO staff, how does what I learn here affect others along the Corridor? Say I am in Oklahoma and learn about something going on there, then I think about how it affects Canada, Mexico, other areas - constant coordination is important and vital for our organization.

How do we get the dialogue going when we talk about simulating dialogue between public and private sector? All our members are high-level officials, leaders in their organization, they tell us about things, we communicate it, get it out there. I will give you cool examples of things going on along our corridor keeping people involved in what we are doing.

Examples of coordination and being a clearinghouse information. What does NASCO do, what are our initiatives? NAFTRACS, the North American Inland Port Network (NAIPNA) and our partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. We are also developing an educational consortium - trying to bring together the universities along the corridor, Mexico, U.S. and Canada, who are training the next generation of transportation innovators, and researching the changing needs of transportation. We are trying to coordinate the universities and the studies they are doing. Example - say the University of Oklahoma is getting funding to split soybean for alternative fuels and University of Minnesota is doing the same thing, using the federal funding. The idea is to let them know, say Oklahoma, you do a-b-c, and you, Minnesota, do d-e-f, then share the studies and get more bang for the buck.

NAFTRACS, the North American Facilitation of Transportation, Trade, Reduced Congestion and Security - that's a mouthful - is a pilot project we have received about $2 million in Congressional earmarks - we are finalizing the application for that project as we speak - and will be going through the negotiation phase soon with the USDOT. It is a good example of public-private partnership, having the information shared. The idea is to have a trade corridor management system that is based on the premise that secure trade is a basis for corridors, and prosperity, supported by technology. Basic studies have gone on similar to this. We don't want to duplicate efforts. We looked, realized things not addressed in the past are: check pointing, vehicle progress along the corridor in terms of trailer, container weights, status; route plans, filing variance analysis. With a Corridor common operating picture, there are ways to balance security with efficiency, and the supply chain visibility, appropriate authority to capture that data. Exciting project!

NAIPN is the North American Inland Port Network. A group that has about eight U.S. cities, six Mexican cities, two Canadian cities, growing on a daily basis. We defined an inland port as a site located away from borders, designed to facilitate international trade through strategic investment in multi-modal infrastructure. We are working on promoting these as efficient economic development engines, an alternative distribution network, linking the inland ports in Mexico, U.S. and Canada, better visibility, provide value-added services to the supply chain and it's a forum also when we meet, two to three times a year to discuss the opportunities, challenges they face, promote the relevancy and economic development and commercial benefits of inland ports to state agencies, investors, trade organization, manufacturers, all that. We have an interactive website. Our website has a section to click on the port, it will tell you the information about that port, set up to help Joe Public get on the website and find out how to do business effectively in North America, NASCO is a source for that information

The Blue Skyways organization, really excited about this, just got started. Blue Skyways is region 6 and 7 of EPA, the perfect fit for us, looking to expand into Mexico and Canada. They have a new website you should check out - It's Their mission is to improve quality of life in North America's heartland by reducing pollution. NASCO has had a "Clean Corridor" committee since 1999, and we were about to kick off the efforts again when we discovered the Blue Skyways, and want to help them with their goals. They help with air, water, and do equipment, fuels, energy and working on developing federal and tri-national and state and local partnerships, leveraging resources, marketing, so it's a really good partnership. We do similar things, but from a trade and transportation perspective along the corridor. The EPA really wants participation - you can be on subcommittees, really help lead that organization.

I think I am pretty close to running out of time. We do events as an organization every year. An inland ports event, this year in San Antonio, looking at inland ports, warehousing distribution, supply chain, this year's emphasis is on rail. We are really excited about it. We have every spring a high-level, tri-national, big picture conference on trade and transportation issues, last one in late May, in Winnipeg, we bring people together, tri-national, the major high-level elected officials focused on initiatives and stimulating a good discussion on issues critical to national and international trade. It is exciting, and NASCO is leading the way in getting this coordination between the three countries.

That's the contact information. We have a part-time person in Mexico helping us out, and one of our good quotes, how no one outside the transportation industry, very few people, realize the importance of transportation on the economy, our time, businesses. So, that's a very quick overview of what we are doing. Exciting organization, I always rush through, but I will be around for questions after the other presentations.

J. Seplow:
Thank you. As far as contact information on the slide-it will be brought back up at the end of the seminar. If you didn't get it, you will have a chance at the end.

Our next presenter is Hugh Conroy. If you think of questions, please go ahead and type them into the chat area, we will address them after all four presentations.

Hugh, give me a second, I am getting you set up.

Hugh Conroy:
Thanks. Again, I am located in Bellingham, Washington, a connection to the whole border set of issues. To give a quick overview of what I will be covering, I want to acquaint you with the context of program and projects we are working on here with the notion of the gateway. I will breeze through our bi-national planning a lot of this is on the WebEx website you can look at on that. I want to focus on initiates of 20 projects; we have picked out four or so most pertinent to today's topic. Working on some now, legislative issues that are pertinent to freight mobility at the border crossing.

Here's the basic geography of this area. Participants have come to call this the Great Way, set of four border crossings. I am looking now for my laser pointer. There, got it. I don't know how clear this is coming through for you, but here's Vancouver, British Columbia, Bellingham, our office, and I will point out you see rail connections which carry freight across the border crossings here and availability of water, marine routes part of the regional freight system, as well as other intermodal connections, and airports.

A close-up of the ports-of-entry the International Mobility and Trade Corridor Project focuses on is shown here along with the approach road connecting those. I want to zoom in and point out the main interstate connection between I-5 and B.C. 99 is not a freight crossing, it's a high-volume passenger only. All freight is required to go a mile over to the east and across, the other freight that serve the region, and the port of entry.

Switching, a transition between the physical geography and institutional landscape, here's a photograph of the port of entry with all the various institutions that occupy this relatively small area labeled on the map as well as the way in which these facilities serve the vehicles and other conveyances moving through this port of entry, and note that there are cars, drivers, all moving through. Here's the Canadian Border Services facility on the right, U.S. Customs and Border Facility coming into the port of entry, and Washington State route -- the yellow line being the border itself. If you are joining from the East Coast that's where the water would typically be.

This is a good indication of why we set up INTC in the first place. Obviously there's increased congestion, pressure on the land use, agencies connected to approaches to improve the cross-border connection. There was a regional consensus there needed to be a forum to better plan, fund and mutually identify improvements.

I will breeze through the next few slides, more information on the website about how INTC is structured, study results, et cetera. This is just detail on the core group agencies that participate in the forum, representing the various government and institutional sectors. We are organized in three tiers, each with different meeting frequencies and roles with regard to decision-making. Objectives are multidisciplinary in nature, planning, operations, and some specifically identified objectives listed there you can look at later or I can speak to in the question period.

Going on six plus years now of putting together projects as a result of the forum, a quick snapshot of the cumulative projects over the time frame. A big anchor being the U.S. Federal Highway. And more recently moving into large amounts of Canadian and partnering on the projects. This doesn't capture a lot of the Canadian funding for the strategic highway program.

To move into the actual projects. Here's the first one I wanted to touch on, identified in 2002, took place in 2003. Having noted that Washington State DOT installed a weigh-in motion scale on I-5 at Beauhill, British Columbia, was installing a motion scale on Highway 1. There was a desire to link the databases in the province so a truck weighing compliant in British Columbia, also a cross-border truck could cross the border having been weight compliant there, continue down I-5 and with that information linked through the database and readable, the truck could save a stop at the Washington weight station get a green light there. This type of application is expanding as B.C. expands its network. Weigh-in motion facilities proximate to the border and installing their own central system shared with Alberta, but the linkages with Washington State will only be improved by that, expect to see continuing benefits in that area.

A lot of you are probably familiar with the Free and Secure Trade program, FAST K57S program, the Pacific Highway border crossing serving interstate 5 and B.C. 99. This is an engineering drawing of plans as approved, approaching southbound, previously owned one primary truck lane approaching that facility. This improvement resulted in the dedicated fast lane, dedicated laning for them, general purpose truck traffic moved to the west behind some duty-free facilities and staging area.

FAST program, if you are not familiar, a pre-approval program for trucks, but unlike passengers, truck movement consists of a driver, carrier and shipper, all three of those elements need to be previously vetted by the inspection agency. The actual infrastructure improvement require to do convert on the benefits promised by FAST were developed. This included funds from the U.S. and Canada.

Here's some photographs of a project going on right now on the southbound approach to the Pacific Highway. A total rebuild of State Route 543, you see the before and after shots from the Washington State DOT website, a picture of the current status below that. To say that this improvement will also result of a FAST lane. When that's completed, turning back to another aerial view, you see through the facility, the widened State Route 543 will include an improved and more efficient connection for trucks, bringing them slightly to the east to line up with the inspection facilities. Turning back from the engineering drawing to the photograph of the southbound FAST system, coming down the green line, direct line to primary inspection booth. Trucks that need to stop for a broker do so in this staging area here. British Columbia is in the process of extending the FAST approach lane, back to the main connector over to B.C. Highway 99 and the main corridor.

With this infrastructure in place as of November 2003, INTC participants are eager to ensure many of the trucks crossing the border would use the new infrastructure as possible and wanted to undertake a program to really encourage that. We, with Federal Highway funding and Canada, started off with marketing research, sampled inward manifests to get a sense of the truck traffic in terms of actual carrier and found that over half of the truck trips crossing the border were made only by 15% of the observed carriers. We had a well-defined market to turn back over for their direct marketing efforts. Took out of our office in corporate with a series of workshops which put brokers, shippers, carriers together with each other, as well as inspection agencies' representatives, trade show forums with both inspection agencies and carrier community and a lot of print and media advertising and trade journals.

Turning to different study; at this point you have gotten a sense of some of the operational changes that occurred in this area, especially in the last three to four years. INTC participants were eager to basically do an update of a data study completed in 99-2000, by U.S. DOT, essentially sought to parse out the components of the transit time like the Pacific Highway, looking north, southbound B.C. Highway 15, both in the past and current re-do of the study surveyors are positioned at the point at which a truck arrives at the queue end, roving position anywhere along here. Down here is service station, trucks coming down the FAST lane and which trucks are stopped and staged for final approach to the primary inspection booth, and the last component of the delay includes several observations, including transition time from the stop bar, processing time, whether or not the truck is empty or loaded, any other conditions at queue. All of these components of transit time will be of great interest when comparing past conditions with current conditions, noting the impact all the various lane configuration, changes, security program changes have had, hopefully resulting in increased benefits.

Also, there's very current operations modeling being done both for a bi-national traffic model under way and a model for the future. I will talk about that briefly in a moment. This will help us understand how to better continue marketing the FAST program because we'll have some correlating commodity flow information and margin flow destination information and see what freight market has been able to enroll and what needs more incentive or direct attention.

INTC is also very interested in what other intermodal opportunities are starting to become viable for cross-border freight. We want to make sure the freight that can use other modes across the border can do so if it makes sense as a solution to congestion. We have looked at benefits the rail corridor might offer, as well as short sea shipping, completed in 2002. For short sea shipping we looked at pairs all having Vancouver as one of the trade on the round you see the drainage zone analysis for one of the market pairs, in this case Vancouver and Portland where the commodity in the pairs within 75-mile radius of arbitrary port location were then looked at for their potential portability for short sea mode.

I won't go into this. I just noticed I had two photographs which nicely illustrated some of the inspection process, improvements that have happened recently on the left there, a forecast photograph of the system. You can see they moved to a very permanent, non-invasive imaging technology. Used to look inside trucks and containers. That's probably of interest in a general way related to increased efficiency of the inspection system.

I will touch on some future project objectives. A lot of you probably heard of advanced traveler information systems. We have one here that's working very well for passenger vehicles, making educated choice between Pacific Highway and based on wait time. We want to expand that kind of information availability to commercial drivers and connect it with existing measures of corridor travel time. To do so will require better integration of more robust technologies, include weigh-in motion, commercial vehicle inspection system network, cameras, et cetera. Expanding that program to trucks and all three commercial ports of entry in this area is of high priority. The reason I put the photograph of Washington State Governor Campbell there, to remind me we have added push there from the state and the province at that level in the government with a recently signed agreement to mutually advance at the state level some of these projects. The weigh in motion is definitely one of those. Border circulation analysis is another priority. I will flip back real quick to the port of entry close-up slide to illustrate a little better the network analysis there will look at what improvement can be made to the east-west connectors that would be more capable of distributing freight traffic to the three available ports of entry. With advance travel information available for trucks in the future, a lot of customs inspections, technology coming online, electronic manifest filing, I think Dan will get into more, commercial drivers will have more flexibility in how to approach border crossings. We want to be sure the infrastructure is prepared to deal with increased volume and increased flexibility mover movement will have, rich intermodal environment.

Linkage of CVISN and FAST, identified as a program itself, but ties in with the linkage of the other systems, and some infrastructure improvements are on the horizon as well.

Just to finish up with legislative issues that are pertinent to the commercial vehicle environment, new funding programs, relatively new, most of us who work on border issues are very aware of these. U.S. Continuation Border Infrastructure program, directly to states, a source of funding we hope to put into the mix with future projects, along with newly updated Canadian ship building in their budget, two sources of funding for borders to be determined in the near future. On the security side there's a lot of talk, you heard of how the programs apply differently to them is of interest to regional trucking industry. The same with U.S. visit, the entry-exit tracking technology, would also presumably have implication for commercial drivers. Electronic manifests, currently voluntary, anticipated to become mandatory in the future. We want to get a sense of how that will change efficiency of the border. By all accounts a very successful result, resulting in quicker processing times and results from enrollment in the FAST program alone. We want to make sure our modeling efforts capture that and there's a smooth transition into the industry.

That's where I will wrap up, happy to answer questions.

J. Seplow:
The next presentation will be given by Dan Murray of the American Transportation Research Institute. I will get you set up. If you have questions for Dan or other presenters please go ahead and post them to the chat area; we will get to them at the end of the seminar.

Dan Murray:
I am speaking quickly today because I know Tony Shallow has great things to talk about, and I don't want to eat into his time. We are a not-for-profit research organization; our members include CEOs of companies, plus OEM representative, insurance company representative. We rely on a research advisory committee to create a research agenda for a two-year period; the "RAC" includes state and federal representatives, academia, et cetera. The realities of the industry, let alone the border, are simply that truck industry growth is increasing dramatically, with trucking being the largest sector of freight, the average profit margin is under 4%, there's a massive driver shortage crisis, and we know there are border security and vulnerability issues documented. And there's real costs associated with border crossings, not the least of which is fuels over $3 a gallon, not likely to come down much in the future. Emissions concerns strong on both sides of the border with legitimate expectations they will come down. New hours of service, regulations in place, concern generating, identifying itself to research saying is there adequate parking, rest areas on either side of the border so when the border itself is essentially the creator of and will be compliant from a rest and on-duty standpoint.

If you go to the Federal Highway Administration's Freight Analysis Framework mapping, it gives you a sense of the magnitude of border crossings just on the northern border alone. Depending on the numbers you use it's generally well accepted truck trade is about $295 billion a year. Canada and Mexico are clearly our largest trading partners and border issues are considerable. I will talk about three major research initiatives, not inclusive of everything going on out there certainly.

First, the Freight Performance Measures Initiative, I will talk about the Border Efficiency Assessment with emphasis on role of border crossing efficiency and security and touch on Canadian border issues. Using real-time truck position data for tens of thousands of vehicles, to calculate truck speed, and working closely with TTI to coordinate reliability index, how much time do you need to add to ensure 95% on time driver delivery. If you were looking at I-10 you can see speed by mile markers, border crossing. We originally started with five corridors. We have now added 20 more corridors, and five border crossings in Canada, the FPM system calculates average speeds, travel times, reliability index for those systems. If you were to look at Washington State, for I-5, you can run all the way down. This is in many ways FPM project subject to what Hugh is doing. Hugh's work is really a regional snapshot, which is very complementary to our corridor-wide approach in this regard. We tend to look at corridor measures that go out ten, 50, 100 to 500-miles or more, numerous efforts to coordinate this effort with state and local efforts. Some of the interesting things developing out of the project include: We have five border crossings where we calculate using real-time data. The southern border, most of you know there's an issue of not really crossing, we have identified some non-tractor or truck electronic data that would allow us to calculate measures, an apples to apples, and also the role of truck position to calculate where trucks are stopping and resting at the border areas. What we are involved in now, a series of case studies to determine how to accommodate the transportation planning tools, improvement plans, policy plans. Two of those case studies include the state of Washington and Texas covering a number of people on this call, participated in those case studies, because they are very interested in border crossings.

The CBP project, is essentially an analysis of border efficiency with emphasis on the role ACE will play in enhancing border efficiency and security, and also cost benefit metrics for ACE and other programs. We are doing a series of analyses on existing research: federal, academic, state data, industry review committee, composed of a range of operations in northern and southern borders, and also providing cost and processing data to calculate times and costs associated with the various activities and transactions that make up a border crossing. We are developing measures of effectiveness for industry, trying to blend those, then determine where the ACE system would plug in to offer enhancements or opportunities for improvements for the program.

We are also basically breaking down and then attaching time and cost figures to that, documenting where technologies can plug in, improve the cost operation figures where ACE will offer enhancements and where some of the impediments issues are still in the border operation analysis. This project is about half done, just now finishing up the cost benefit analysis. Will go out, use real fleets, trucks, drivers, commodities, calibrate, validate the costs using real fleets, real border crossings, and lastly address the capacity issues referencing Hugh's -- the one question carriers always pose is essentially that with special FAST lanes they are all getting special service; what happens when all five lanes go FAST? No special service anymore... The early results show that ACE probably does provide improvement in efficiency in the back room and through the supply chain interfaces, but early indications are the physical infrastructure will continue to be an impediment along with some labor issues. Generally the early findings are border issues are extremely complex and you compare northern and southern border operations they are radically different animals--two different reports describing the scenarios at northern and southern borders, with probably incomparable cost considerations. Within any one border, the northern for instance, there are relatively significant differences because of the amount of flexibility given to local agents and managers. The goal to some degree is to standardize much of that; we will lose some of that inefficiency having to manage different border crossings. Lastly, the way ACE is designed today or portal interaction, and the different sectors are very different. Early Indiana occasions issue ACE may favor larger carriers with backroom systems accommodating to more readily than small carriers.

Lastly,ATRI, SAIC and FMCSA are undertaking a Canadian issues study, aka, acknowledging the compliance issues, programs, what they look like in the U.S., Canada, what do the carriers know, education, the parties and objectives -- I won't bore you on this slide, to work with carriers on both sides of the border, what they know, think they know, the realities, where we have been in the past and where we are going, to look for ways of streamlining those programs thru harmonization and evaluation, using existing partnerships that exist between the U.S. and Canada.

Based on this slide, I will throw in one more acronym/one initiative, the Electronic Freight Management program, between supply chain partners before you deal with government, border, then start to move into the safety and regulatory agencies on either side, then CBP and ACE, ITDS international trade data to aggregate/integrate all the requirements, programs, agencies under one umbrella. To CBP and FMCSA's credit they are probably the farthest along in terms of comparing and sharing data. The ITDS will be a medium term solution for streamlining some of the requirements at the border crossing through our FPM program. Additional project called Motor Carrier Efficiency Study, throughout the industry, including border crossings, trucking, shipping communities developing electronic standards for border shipment, transactions for supply chain, and customs is developing standards, and state programs, intrastate corridor programs and lastly, as Hugh said, and there's sort of an expectation--it's when not if ACE will be mandated, so everyone is sort of positioning under the assumption it's going to be here, what will it look like, both sides of the border, clearly.

I think that's it, trying to keep everybody on time. Feel free to contact me by e-mail, phone call, visit the website, we have projects highlighted there. Other projects going on, and we are making great strides. Thank you, Jennifer.

J. Seplow:
I will bring up contact information for all the presenters at end of seminar. The final presentation will be given by Tony Shallow of Transport Canada.

Tony Shallow:
I will not eat up all the question and answer time. I won't take a lot of time in as much as you and Dan spoke to many projects which we are happy to be aware of and help. I want to focus on one modest project I have been working on, you might think since the dawn of time. But it's appropriate I would follow Dan because as it turns out the initial work Dan and Bruce Lambert and company were doing on freight performance measurement, we quickly discovered without knowing it we were actually looking at the same potential or untapped data with different purposes in mind. Dan and company were looking at digital logs gathered from communication service providers in the U.S., commercial vehicle operations, to do measurements on broad highway segments. We at the same time began to talk to the industry to talk about using the logs as a source of empirical data for border crossings. So we were looking through different ends of the telescope you might say.

Permit me to go to the first slide. I won't go closely through the slides. The first two describe what we are presently doing. Who we are working with, and what limits we are operating under. The remainder of the slides are brief descriptions of technology and the real time information we hope to get. I would like to focus on specifically the opportunities and challenges for measurement of broad highway segments. Dan illustrated in the data they were using was ideal for doing measurements along broad corridors, performance measures, the data available in collaboration with the industry of course is immense and forever growing. The border crossings, in contrast we were looking for much more detailed measurements over a short interval, essentially looking to harvest more highly detailed data, explaining the choice of using GPS technology, not having as broad resource as Dan has had. But the GPS technology was ideal because of the functional capability of the technology to increase the resolution of the data. Essentially the measurement to measure an interval you need a location poll. To develop a high level of detail and the technology vendor we have been dealing with, the technology was effectively integrated with the G1708 control module, allowing us to tell where the vehicle is located, and how long it idled or was stopped at that particular location.

Initially we were using archived data to illustrate we could measure crossing times on a historic basis. When brought forward for consideration one of the most compelling contrary or initial reactions was that if we are looking at a measuring wait times at border crossings real-time data is the most essential. Considering how we might use this technology to measure, measure wait time necessaries in real-time and led us to where we are today.

The essential technology, if I look at these two slides, you can see here, based on some of the initial research data, work we did, we were able to secure funding to enable us to install reader devices at each of the six major border crossings in southern Ontario. That is the key to doing real-time measurement. The other essential measurements are obviously we set out to do this directly in collaboration with the bridge and tunnel operators and industry carriers. We are working in collaboration and are working as indicated on the slide with one particular vendor who developed the elements of the system using their own data management system.

There are two core client or partner carrier groups involved. That would be the vendors' core carriers who have agreed to permit us to share access to the border-related elements of their digital logs. In addition to those core carriers, we ourselves have purchased approximately 100 route tracker units. This is a proprietary technology the vendor agreed to participate with us on the understanding that our interest is solely, and singularly to wait times. Clearly we could not do this without the collaboration of industry and bridge and tunnel operators. In terms of access to their proprietary look logs we indicated we are solely, singularly interested in that fraction of the data record. We can quite readily scrub the data. And we have had success in that regard. Current clients were enthused because they could see they had an interest in developing a method of estimating the wait time at border crossings. For those units we bought, have deployed to volunteer carriers, interest was the same. We were able to make the technology available to them on a field test basis, and they will, as a consequence of carrying the units on our behalf, they will receive all the data they typically would were they clients of the individual vendor. The key here is the industry participants were completely open-minded and enthusiastic about this sort of research demonstration vendor because they could clearly see there was a mutual and government industry benefit, having systematic data, and there was no threat to their proprietary information.

You can read through the slides any other details you are interested in or call us to discuss at greater length. To describe the technology we have been using, it is a GPS based technology system. Very simple to install and that has been an installation routine, familiar to all the carriers, a simple plug-in device. Essentially needs line of sight to the sky. The key to this particular system -- I will go back -- the device is not simply a GPS tracking device. It's a Pentium driven computer, it logs detailed engine diagnostic data. That combination, we felt the vendor pushes detailed data to an open website carriers on route you can see the type of -- it will give you a clear illustration of the extent service carriers receive from the vendor. This essentially is using a utility, but the list is more important. I draw your attention to the fuel tax service, a cradle to grave service, where the system automatically completes the report, full audit, post-audit before submitting reports. Why this was a significant to us at outset, because of the fuel tax reporting requirements the vendor was required to archive data for up to 7 years, at the outset that gave us a fairly lengthy archival record to begin to look at.

Here again, this is, from the carrier's perspective, we use this effectively to demonstrate to the carriers we approached, asking them to carry the route trackers on our behalf, to demonstrate this is the kind of value added content they would get in return for collaborating with us. The key was minimal time and effort on your part, no cost, and the value added content. You participate with us for the duration, we are funded two years beyond the initial acquisition of route tracker units, looking at approximately $50,000 per annual for monthly data management and content fee.

This will give you, I will take some time. When we initially put forward the project our emphasis was on empirical time for historic analysis. We brought to peoples' attention the concern was it has to be real-time in nature. We were able to address that challenge in as much as the fact that the reader devices that the turnpike uses are essentially wireless, Bluetooth wireless receivers. They will download data when a commercial vehicle comes into contact, to enable or facilitate the web posting of real-time data. The key ingredient was to install at appropriate locations at the border crossing. What we have done -- let me say first, in addition to with the reader device located at border crossing, once data downloaded can be immediately transmitted for processing, then pushed back to a website according to the specifications encoded in the vendor's data management system. One key consideration, with the GPS devices operating in high resolution mode, we are not only able to measure the interval from entry into exit from the border crossing, but we can fragment the interval based on the specific configuration of the border crossing. So, you can appreciate, this has immense benefit to the individual carrier. You will know here, in the second slide -- Jennifer, is the arrow I am pointing with showing up on the screen?

J. Seplow:

T. Shallow:
Look in the middle, start entry zone. Once the measurement is essentially taken at the end when the truck exits the crossing, but while within the boundaries of the crossing, from the second slide you can see entry zone, we can segment out the fraction of time spent in duty-free. Clearly that has interest to the individual carrier, and to the bridge and tunnel operators, and the custom and border agencies as well. Happy to be measured in terms of operating efficiency, but they don't want border times including duty-free, congestion parking on Peace Bridge or time spent in secondary processing. The key here is that each crossing can be configured to calculate specifically offline times spent within the boundaries of the individual crossing itself.

This is the web page currently used. If you were to look, down in the lower corner there's a site log on. Working with the local port officials in Niagara for six months now. If you were to look at the screen you can see right now it calculates overflow time and stop time. Generic description, but specifically duty-free time. Appropriate deductions made, amount of time spent in overflow or duty-free for the crossing time. And most of this, let me pose it this way, the challenges encountered in implementing real-time, installing devices, we are a very small group. Group of one, coupled with the consultant dealing with about 25 partners, an immense challenge notwithstanding the best intentions of all parties. But we are looking to enrich the look and feel of the website in conjunction with the bridge and tunnel operators and the customs officials. If they are using this as an operational tool on a day to day basis it has to reflect their assessment of the proper algorithms, how it should look, be summarized.

The reference here, a comment statement drop-down feature. Internal algorithm, based on last hour of activity, or last crossing time, it will calculate a next-hour forecast. There's a graphic display demonstrating current crossing times on the current day in relation to 20 crossing times on that day, compiled previously over past months.

You will note here down on the bottom, the link to live video feed for validation. We are currently in the process of looking at the digital record, comparing it to the time-stamped video records each of the bridge and tunnel operators maintain. We have had very useful results in that. We can clearly see the digital data, as recorded to the website is very closely clearly synched to the time-stamped data on the video record.

Feel free to call up this website. It is still a work in progress. We will need a link to another slide, basically summarizing with annotated comments put in by the operators themselves.

This is another method of using real-time display. We believe this is the richest and greatest utility, will develop over time a systematic record of wait time data, by crossing, that helps validate the historical record, demonstrates improvements over time, demonstrates patterns by the week, hour, month. But more, that it is based on a method that is consistent from one crossing to the next and is endorsed by the principle users and operators at those individual crossings.

To sum up, interest in cooperating, I think it was a challenge, one of the opportunities, the open-mindedness of the carriers, not hung up on traditional convention related to confidentiality. They are aware of the upside of this, very open-minded when we came to them asking them to help us exploit in a manner that helped the public interest as well as their own.

Challenges again, in spite of best intentions, particularly implementing the real-time has been a particular challenge. Putting our initial demonstration site to prove the point at Peace Bridge, without problem, operating consistently for six months there have been technical glitches at each crossing, problems with attenuation of signal, logistic difficulties, dealing with carriers who don't have time to indulge this research project. Busy days, difficult to get in touch, keep in touch when they have so many other commercial priorities you might say.

Getting an IP address from, should I say State Department of Technology. I mention it only because we fortunately have managed to work through the technical glitches and fully anticipate, with developments in the past weeks, hope to be completely operational by September. Puts us about six months behind schedule. As to opportunities, I think that is the real pay-off here. The opportunities, it's opened up the door to effective collaboration with the industry in terms of exploiting the digital logs. What we accomplished in a very small scale, mirrored far more visibly in the work Dan has done with FHWA, the abundance of data not just for border crossings, but freight performance measurements, highway corridors, urban congestion management, is immense, and hopefully by focusing our attention on this, beginning to exploit, we have opened up other doors, sparked consideration with the provincial mini three of transportation, bound and determined to make a case for these digital tracker logs, as a bona fide transportation planning tool. We believe the ITF test bed at University of Toronto would hope to use the technology to do urban congestion management. The small contribution we are making in terms of opening up this virtually endless supply of data. We are providing systematic method, bridge and tunnel operators and customs officials are prepared to use, not everything they need but certainly one tool. And we are helping lay the foundation for more ambitious data, much like what FHWA has been doing. That's it for me.

J. Seplow:
Thank you. We have gone a little bit over time today, and we have had really good detailed presentations. As long as it's okay with the presenters I will take about 10 extra minutes, and we will try to quickly go through the questions. If we don't get through in detail I encourage you to contact the presenters directly with your questions. I will bring up the slide about the freight peer-to-peer program. I encourage you to go to the website to learn more about it. I am going from top to bottom of the questions coming in.

J. Seplow:
What are the U.S. custom and border protection members of NASCO?

T. Melvin:
They are not members of NASCO, the have not met with the GSA yet, but have with customs and border protection, they are very familiar with NASCO and initiatives we work on.

J. Seplow:
Is the Laredo port of entry a partner?

T. Melvin:
They are.

J. Seplow:
Final question. What would you say has been the greatest accomplishment of NASCO to date?

T. Melvin:
We have had a lot of accomplishments over the 12 years. Early on we were very instrumental in getting the national corridor planning and development for border infrastructure program, in Federal legislation. Communicating, working together, coordinating efforts, sharing best practices, traditionally they are fairly competitive with one another. The membership is the biggest success as far as the power in membership, state DOT, counties, private sector high-level members. The time they give, expertise in the various areas that lead the organization, ability to contact to get in the door with high-level people we may not reach on our own is a big help, and knowing in the future, multi-state corridors, major component in the future of transportation. We were around in the beginning with other trade organizations 10 or 12 years ago. Knowing the people that used to laugh now know we are important.

J. Seplow:
Are the California ports of entry of Otay Mesa and Calexico partners?

T. Melvin:
They are not. We focus along the mid-continent corridor. It's not that we don't support what they are doing, think they are important. They are just not in our corridor focus area.

J. Seplow:
I am moving on to questions for Hugh. How did you get CBP cooperation to allow you to market FAST?

H. Conroy:
Both customs and border protection, back when it was customs and immigration, and Canada Border Services Agency, steering committee level, have been since the beginning. They were at the table when deciding to promote that. I guess it was something we never asked to have permission to do. As the project was defined, moved forward it was just part of the package that they were involved in how we did that. We certainly wouldn't have done anything without full integration of their existing effort.

J. Seplow:
Next question for you, Hugh, regarding the weigh-in motion data sharing, in British Columbia/Washington, are the WIM high-speed mainline, or ramp WIM? Also, even with data sharing, is there a random number of trucks called to report?

H. Conroy:
What was -- I didn't really get the question about the main line.

J. Seplow:
Are the WIM high-speed mainline or ramp?

H. Conroy:
They are on the main line, both weigh-in motion devices. They are at-speed detectors. I believe the first thing in the chronology is the truck is equipped with a transponder, drives over the plate, the transponder receives a signal, whether it continues on with a green light bypass or is called in. There are checks in that system in general to bring truck in every now and then. Data available from the system, I am sure there is, not aware of how many trucks are really using that system now for exactly that. I am also not sure, although I would see there's some connectivity between trucks at standard weigh station, they could get a green light bypass when they come down into Washington or vice versa.

J. Seplow:
Have you been using the data in retrospective analysis to determine how many trucks benefit from the arrangement?

H. Conroy:
I was jumping ahead, I am not currently aware of how many trucks are using the connection.

J. Seplow:
Next question, for Dan, and I know you typed some response in there, but you can add anything else. What kind of communication technology did you use for tracking travel time? You responded satellite and GPS anything else to add?

D. Murray:
Probably to support Tony's comments earlier, we used satellite GPS data, lat/long information, but not running continuous real-time tracking which is why I described it as near real-time. Frankly only processing daily or weekly. You couldn't or wouldn't use this specific data for traffic monitoring purposes. We are looking at it as a long-term larger geographic measurement tool. That's why Tony's system essentially takes our large-core data, moves up Tony's system, accommodates them, integrates a more localized data, manages data over thousands of miles then. Bear in mind, I will add, our example is limited by the number of commercial vehicles, only, limited by the number of commercial vehicles currently operating with that individual vendor. It's a very small cross-section. That varies from one crossing to the next, but it's growing daily.

J. Seplow:
Next question for you Dan, briefly describe any ATRI collaboration with the Mexican trucking community or ATRI's Mexican counterpart.

D. Murray:
I did post an answer there to be expeditious -- a number of large trucking companies in the U.S. partially own Mexican subsidiaries. U.S. assets move trailers up to the southern border and Mexican trailers pick up the trailers south of the border, still a movement in between. The Mexican/U.S. asset issue still requires a third-party intermediary to move the trailer, the common factor is the trailer. Using large company and access to trailer data we hope to recreate a performance measure at southern border, having a third-party involved.

J. Seplow:
Second part of question, you mentioned JB Hunt as one of the partners, it's my understanding they have a Mexican subsidiary operating south of the border. Does JB Hunt assist with ATRIs efforts to obtain freight performance data on the Mexican side of the border? You responded yes, JB Hunt is a carrier and a member is on the board.

D. Murray:
That hits it on the head, I think.

J. Seplow:
One more question, directed to all four presenters. I will ask the question, starting with Tiffany. Two questions: What's your prediction on the future of NAFTA, and what has been the impact on your organization (if any) of the Tri-National Security and Prosperity Partnership?

T. Melvin:
In the short term it will, some of the deadlines that are supposed to be reached will be slowed, have already been. Being caught up in the immigration debate and hopefully we will get through it and people will recognize the importance of NAFTA to our country and the global marketplace.

I am not sure the initiative has really impacted us in that our coalition for 12 years has been talking about the security and prosperity partnership is about, coordinating efforts, environmental efforts, making the business place more competitive. What the agreement is about, fitting perfectly with what we are doing, happy to see that put in place, the agreement worked out. It's nice to see we are on the right track and echoes what we are already doing. That cuts to the core of what our mission is about. I guess that's it.

J. Seplow:
Thank you, Hugh, on to you next.

H. Conroy:
I will skip right to the security prosperity, what has been identified in the security and reflect a lot of initiatives we have had in the border gateway area. The specific goals of SPP really do promote a lot of the cross-border integration system, joint management of facilities, et cetera, and I guess the impacts for our organization are we feel like there's more impetus to start thinking harder about the regulatory and legal challenges to fully realizing the objectives listed in the SPP. I guess back under the banner of legislative questions how we, as the U.S. and Canada, U.S. and Mexico with regard to border crossings, what mechanisms are available to better coordinate regulatory and legislative parameters around these goals. That often is something we come up against when we are left, government agencies trying to affect these things.

J. Seplow:
Thank you. Dan, on to you next.

D. Murray:
I think in a nut shell, probably as much opinion as anything. I don't there's an issue of NAFTA at the northern border. The fact is the industry operations aren't likely to change much, Mexican fleets aren't racing to get into the U.S. market for a variety of reasons, engine and emissions issues, regulatory issues, and U.S. carriers are not racing to get into Mexico because of political issues, the driver shortage issue may add to that. I don't think the southern border will see a lot of change from the existing scenario.

J. Seplow:

T. Shallow:
I will add to what Dan said, in the northern border, NAFTA is a reality, the notion of integrated trade is very embedded, I suggest across all the provinces in Canada. You don't need further evidence of how integrated in Ontario than to look, consider the explosion of truck traffic there has been over the past 10 years along the 401 or Quebec City to Windsor Corridor. Every day of the week. Goes further than that. Not all things we agree on, still don't have a lumber agreement, but NAFTA is very much etched into the Canadian economic framework, will continue to do so, and I think it's a focus on freight performance measures, things such as that will facilitate further regulatory standards and harmonization, one of the things I would certainly like to see.

J. Seplow:
Thank you. I think we are going to close out for today. I thank everybody for hanging in there a little while extra, and again, if you have additional questions, we don't have time to open the phone lines, but if you have questions, contact directly, addresses are showing on the screen. As I mentioned, the presentations and recording will be online in the next two weeks or so. Next seminar will be held on September 20, entitled Freight Financing. If you haven't done so, I encourage you to visit the Talking Freight website and join the freight planning listserv. I want to mention before we close out, we are planning for next year's seminars. If you have ideas, please send me an e-mail, any topic ideas, brief description, thoughts on presenters for the topic. Thank you to all four presenters for a great presentation and thank you to everybody who attended.

Updated: 10/20/2015
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000