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

Linking Freight with Context Sensitive Design: Notable Practices

May 18, 2005 Talking Freight Transcript


Good day, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Angela, and I will be your coordinator for today. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. We will be conducting an audio question-and-answer session at the end of this session, and you may submit questions via the web at any time by using the chat feature in the lower right hand corner of the screen. If at any time during the call you require audio assistance, press star followed by zero and a coordinator should be happy to assist you. Should you experience any difficulty with today's presentation, please contact webex technical support at 866-779-3239. Now I would like to turn the presentation over to your host for today's call, Miss Jennifer Seplow.

Jennifer Seplow:

Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Seplow, and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Linking Freight with Context Sensitive Design: Notable Practices. Please be advised that today's seminar is being recorded.

Today we'll have three speakers: Allison L. C. de Cerreño (DAY SIRENYO), Ph.D., of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, NYU and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Roberta Weisbrod of the Partnership for Sustainable Ports, and Dick Gordon of Cansult Limited.

Dr. Allison L. C. de Cerreño is Co-Director of the NYU-Wagner Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, and Research Scientist and Assistant Research Professor at New York University. She is also the Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Prior to joining the Rudin Center, Dr. C. de Cerreño was Director of Science & Technology Policy at the New York Academy of Sciences (1998-2002), and before that she was Associate Director of Studies (1996-1998) and Research Associate for Latin America (1991-1996) at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. C. de Cerreño taught courses in international relations at Hunter College (1991-1994) and at City College (1996).

Among her publications are: "High Speed Rail Projects in the United States: Identifying the Elements for Success" (forthcoming), "The Dynamics of On-Street Parking in Large Central Cities," "Transportation Research Record 1898" (January 2005), "Context Sensitive Solutions in Large Central Cities" (February 2004), "Dividing The Pie: Placing the Transportation Donor-Donee Debate in Perspective" (May 2003), and "Pollution Prevention and Management Strategies for Mercury in the NY/NJ Harbor" (July 2002), which has won several awards. She is also editor of "Maintaining Solid Foundations for Hi-Tech Growth: Transportation & Communications Infrastructure in the Tri-State Region (2001)", "University-Industry-Government Relations: Obstacles and Opportunities" (1999), and "Scientific Cooperation, State Conflict: The Roles of Scientists in Mitigating International Discord" (1998).

Dick Gordon is Manager, Transportation Planning with Cansult Limited based in the Greater Toronto Area. He was the consultant team Project Manager for the development of Freight Supportive Land Use Planning Guidelines for Ontario's Ministry of Transportation. He has over 30 years of broad transportation planning experience, much of it acquired while in the employ of the former Metropolitan Toronto. Dick holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Waterloo and Northwestern University respectively. He is registered both as a Professional Engineer and a Professional Planner in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Roberta E. Weisbrod is the principal of Partnership for Sustainable Ports, a consultancy that engages in planning and implementation of projects that intersect freight transport and land use in the urban arena. She was on a team that performed the feasibility study for a freight village in Union County, New Jersey, for the Union County Department of Economic Development, and she is currently working on a logistic enhancement study for the Hunts Point Bronx New York Produce Market, the largest produce market in North America, for the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Energy Research Development Authority. At the present time, she is a leader in the pro bono effort to save the Red Hook graving dock, one of the last large ship repair yards in New York/New Jersey harbor.

Prior to establishing her business, Roberta Weisbrod was Director for Sustainable Transportation, at Inform, an environmental organization; Director for Port and Intermodal Planning at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, initiating the Cross Harbor Rail Freight MIS and the Strategic Plan for the Redevelopment of the Port of New York; and Special Assistant to the Commissioner for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, where she worked on maritime environmental issues. She is the author of numerous published papers on freight planning issues.

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

Finally, I would like to remind you that this session is being recorded. A file containing the audio and the visual portion of this seminar will be posted to the Talking Freight Web site within the next week. To access the recorded seminar, please visit and click on the "recorded events" link on the left side of the page and then choose the session you'd like to view. Due to the size of the file, recorded files are available for viewing/listening purposes only and cannot be saved to your own computer. We encourage you to direct others in your office who may have not been able to attend this seminar to access the recorded seminar.

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

What we'll do is hang on for a few minutes and let a few more people join in and at 1:00 we'll get started so operator, we can put everybody back into hold for a few minutes.

Welcome back, it's now about 1:00 and I see many others have joined us so we'll get started. Today's topic is Linking Freight with Context Sensitive Design: Notable Practices. For those who just joined in, if you think of questions during the presentations you can type them into the chat area of your screen. Presenters will be unable to answer the questions during their presentations but we'll use the questions during the last half hour of the seminar. I'll now turn the call over to Allison L. C. de Cerreño, Co-Director of the NYU-Wagner Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management and Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

Allison C. de Cerreño

Let me begin with just a brief background of my experience with context sensitive solutions and freight. Several years ago, we did a study on context sensitive solutions in large central cities for the Federal Highway Administration along with NACTO – the National Association of City Transportation Officials. On freight, I've been involved in several projects, most recently one on institutional barriers to effective freight movement in the downstate NY region for NY State DOT and also one on domestic freight ferries for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. So, I've worked on CSS and freight, but until I needed to do this presentation I hadn't linked the two so what I'd like to do today in terms of the goals of the presentation are to provide some background on context sensitive solutions and how it might be linked with freight, and provide some specific examples. If you look at the title it's Context Sensitive Solutions for Freight since I think that using context sensitive solutions can be a very effective way to helping make freight good neighbors.

Let's start by defining context solutions since there are multiple definitions and in many places around the country, they don't use the phrase even though that's what they're doing. I like to think of it as a cloud -- when you look at it from afar it's easy to discern but when you're in it it's more nebulous. Federal Highway Administration uses the following definition, "a collaborative interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits the physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility." I prefer NYSDOT's definition, which is the one here on the slide. It's more simply stated and embodies the notion that it's a way of doing business that's incorporated into everything: "A philosophy wherein safe transportation solutions are designed in harmony with the community." As it is here, something isn't a CSS project, everything is a CSS project. It's important to make the point that context sensitive solutions include public participation but context sensitive solutions doesn't equal public participation alone. It includes a lot of other things; an interdisciplinary approach which combines planners, architects, engineers, landscapers, and others for a comprehensive look and flexibility in design which allows for modifications when necessary. And finally in terms of definitional components, it's important to point out that CSS is about making a place. When you're dealing with CSS and transportation you're not using a facility to go from one place to another but want the facility be a place you want to come to in some way.

In the work we did with NACTO, we identified a number of difficulties in implementing context sensitive solutions and it is helpful to point them out. First is competing interests. When you involve the public and involve multiple stakeholders and multiple components of one agency or multiple agencies you're going to have competing interests. The second is fiscal constraints which affects every project. The third is particularly important: institutional inertia. In particular, what we were pointing to was the historical way of doing things in a silo fashion, so getting this interdisciplinary activity together is not as simple as one would hope. Lack of contextual definition is another difficulty, something which is clear with the few definitions I gave, and finally legal concerns revolving around the liability of implementing flexible design when doing context sensitive solutions.

When thinking about CSS, most people immediately begin to think about pedestrians and roads and making the latter more accessible to the former but it's more than that, especially when you think of it as a philosophy that incorporates multidisciplinary approaches, public involvement, and so on. Further as I mentioned earlier CSS could be a help on freight projects which often run up against community opposition given concerns related to freight movement through the neighborhood. CSS can help balance freight needs and community concerns. When dealing with CS for freight, there are some particular issues to think about that are of special concern to the communities in which freight projects are situated. A number of these concerns are identified in a TRB NCHRP report that looked as freight as good neighbors and you can see a number of them here: traffic flow, safety and security, air quality, economic development, noise and excessive light vibrations and land use and value.

I'd like to move on examples. I'm going to touch on Pennsylvania and New Jersey but more in terms of how they've changed their overall approach. Then talk about Seattle, Washington where they've done a number of different things related to freight and context sensitive solutions and finally Toledo, Ohio with the Maumee River Crossing that truly integrates freight activities and CSS.

Here this is to give some background from Pennsylvania's approach to CSS. You will note that they've incorporated public involvement into everything they are doing. As they go through the planning and preliminary engineering, et cetera. Again in New Jersey you'll see that you have public participation at every step of the way and even at the construction stage you have ongoing interaction with local officials in the community. What you do not see here as easily, although you see it in terms of the definitional piece where you see the local agencies and officials and the officials and stakeholders, is the interdisciplinary approach.

Seattle offers several examples of how to balance freight and community interests. First, Seattle is part of the FAST corridor (Freight Action Strategy for Everett, Seattle and Tacoma). FAST is a partnership of transportation agencies, ports, cities, economic development organizations, truck, rail and other businesses which began in 1996 to study freight movement in Washington and develop projects to increase efficiency. There are two phases. 15 projects were identified in the first phase and 10 in phase 2. To date seven projects have been completed and a number of others are on way. The projects range in their goals, and include replacement of at-grade rail crossings, roadway improvements, and improvements to enhance efficiency and port access. But across the board, FAST is facilitating interaction between the public and freight providers and engaging the public and elected officials as well as approaching it from an interdisciplinary approach when answer both in selection and funding as well as implementation of the projects.

The second thing that Seattle has done is the Port of Seattle's central waterfront project. The goal of this project was economic development and didn't deal with freight directly, but I've included it for today because it was envisioned and implemented by a freight-driven entity. Third is the Port of Seattle's experience with creating parks and public access around the marine port while engaging the public.

In terms of Seattle's Central Waterfront, 60 years ago Seattle's waterfront was entirely industrial. The city was separated by a steep hill and SR-91, the Alaskan highway. The Port of Seattle was one of the first to recognize containerized trade and quickly became a key west coast port; in the 1990s it also became a passenger cruise industry center as well. Currently the port is the 7-10th largest container port in the U.S. depending on what source one uses. It has 28 commercial marine terminals, 24 container cranes, and is a key trade route for Asia, in particular Japan, China, and Korea, as well as for western Canada. The initial Central Waterfront Project began in the 1970s, led by the Port of Seattle. It began with a vision that the Port's land holdings could be a catalyst for economic development and a civic asset for the city. Several studies were undertaken over the next few years, and the process involved a great deal of public input and comment. The result was a concept in 1991 that would allow both commercial and civic uses of the waterfront and reconnect it to the city.

A design team was hired with the following goals, and I think you'll see that context sensitive solutions are very much reflected in these goals: creating a new urban neighborhood rewoven into the fabric of the city; developing linkages to reconnect the waterfront to establish and rekindle communities; respond to the historic and contextual forces of the site; creating a place of use where people could work, plan, live; and creating a framework for success for the Port, the industries and the city.

Here's a picture of the vision that they had. The entire project covered an eleven acre complex located at Pier 66 or the Bell Street Pier. It called for an arena and conference center and other amenities. And here's another vision of the pier. You can actually see if you look really closely right around here and over here are two footbridges and those are important because they helped to connect the pier to the city. Here is Bell Street Pier today and as you can see as you look around the result of CSS - you see people milling around, all the things happening and a place where people come. And here I wanted to point out is one of those footbridges closer up while it was still being built. The one thing I wanted to note is in dealing with the public on this, it was important to the pedestrians that the foot bridges be safe, easy to find and well lit and wide so that people didn't feel cramped as they were walking through so the two bridges incorporate these values and aesthetics into their designs so people feel comfortable using them to get to the pier.

The next thing I'd like to touch on is the Port of Seattle's parks as another example of linking CSS and freight. This map is available to anyone and numerous parks are positioned throughout the area where the freight is being handled. The Port of Seattle's parks were developed with a great deal of community involvement which is echoed in the kinds of facilities offered at its 60 acres of parks and public access sites. There are bike trails, pedestrian trails, viewpoints of the port and more. The picture here on the left is Jack Perry Park which has 1.1 acres and 120 feet of shoreline access. And, as you can see in the picture, it has a view of the cranes and coast guard facilities. And here are a few more examples of the many parks. On the top left is Elliott Bay Park with 11 acres and 4,100 feet of shoreline. It has a fishing pier and view of the grain terminal operations. On the bottom left is Terminal 18 park which has a view of Terminal 5's operations. On the right is Jack Block Park with 15-acres, a walking pier and children's play area, as well as another view of Terminal 5's operations. Of note the Port is moving to entirely pesticide-free and synthetic fertilizer-free landscaping at all of its parks and facilities. When looking at the parks, CSS plays an important role here for freight since people not only come and have access to the marine environment but also they get to see what is happening with freight. They see the ships coming in and out, see the operations and that's helpful in terms of gaining support from the public for freight, something that is often largely invisible.

The final example I want to talk about today is the Maumee Bridge Crossing, and as I noted earlier I think it is the pinnacle of linking CSS and freight. It also offers a highway/bridge example where the previous one dealt with the marine and port environment. The Maumee River Crossing offers one of the best examples to date of linking freight projects directly with CSS. The crossing is a signature project in Toledo, Ohio. It's the largest project ever undertaken by Ohio DOT and consists of 7 phases of work along a 3.8 mile stretch of Interstate 280. The result will be added capacity in the form of one additional lane in each direction on the approaches, and an entirely new and updated bridge span. The cost of the main bridge is a little over $231 million.

By way of background, Toledo is a major port on Lake Erie with increasing freight traffic on the Maumee River and along the roadways. The current bridge is the Craig Memorial Bridge, one of two remaining draw bridges on the interstate system. In 1988, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments identified the need to eliminate the bottleneck occurring both on the roadway and the waterway and formed the MRC task force to assist ODOT and HNTB, who had been hired as a project management consultant. Since it was such a large project and a signature project they made a decision early on for a new approach using CSS. Maumee is just one example of how Ohio is beginning to integrate CSS into all of its projects along the lines of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Each project must go through a project development process that includes a multidisciplinary approach and specific guidelines for public involvement, both of which are available on their web site.

The CSS approach for Maumee is reflected in the primary criteria for determining the bridge type. You'll see that public preference is first and foremost, along with use of local labor and materials, overall theme and appearance, and only in the secondary criteria do you see costs and other items. The design process began in April 1999 with citizens working alongside ODOT from the beginning. There was extensive outreach -- 34 public meetings, 99 community presentations, newsletters, a web site as well as Maumee River Crossing Education Committee, all of which could be looked to for information. The MRC Task Force and ODOT put out four choices for the type of bridge: box girder, steel truss, suspension, and cable-stayed. (Another draw bridge was not an option since there were new weight restrictions and a drawbridge would not solve the bottleneck problems.) The type of bridge was selected after a number of months and you'll see the cable stayed bridge was the favorite of the public as well as the designers. They had three months of public outreach to develop the theme for the project and in February 2000 recommended the following: Transportation for the main corridor, Industry/Glass for the bridge span, and Natural Resources for the land reuse areas. The bridge incorporates design elements selected at public workshops in April and May 2000 and a number are identified here -- the single pylon, the fan-like arrangement of the cable stays, glass incorporated into the pylon, low maintenance and neutral color. It has several unique design features in addition to these. One is the light emitting diode that's incorporated into the pylon. The pylon will be viewable from all four directions north, south, east and west. Also, for the engineers, this is going to be the largest set of cables ever used on this type of bridge. Finally, the decisions on land reuse were important because once I-280 is elevated in the areas they're looking at, it will leave about 44-acres beneath it that need to be reclaimed. And so the decision was made to fill that trench and reconnect roads and communities and allow access to the river.

In this picture, on the left is the current Craig Memorial Bridge and the bottom right is a pictorial of what the new bridge will look like. The span will be 1,225 feet with a single pylon rising 270 feet above the roadway so it will be one of the tallest structures in Toledo. It adds capacity with the new lanes and new bridge - the Craig Memorial Bridge will remain open with traffic diverted so it will have local traffic rather than interstate traffic. It adds capacity on I-280 which helps truck movement as well as automobile movement with one new lane and provides clearance for the waterway traffic, much of which is freight movement to and from the port.

In terms of status, the project is 99% complete. The bridge span is expected to open in September 2006. There's landscaping and filling of the trench to connect the local roads currently in progress. Here's another picture, a pictorial of what it is expected to look like with that LED, light emitting diode, in the evening.

One last thing before closing is that another thing they did at Maumee is they used innovative financing to fund the project. In particular they used Garvee bonds, roughly $215 million worth and they used toll credits, Ohio DOT toll credits. That's important in terms of the overall process of how they dealt with this - new ways of doing things from beginning to end, a forward perspective from linking context sensitive solutions and freight to financing the project itself.

Finally just a slide with all the contact points, my contact information at the top and a number of the places you can get more information. If you're interested particularly the Maumee River Crossing, go to Look Up Toledo. It has up to date photographs on the building of the new bridge. The final one is that TRB report that I mentioned in terms of linking freight and the community. Thank you.

J. Seplow:

Thank you, Allison. I want to encourage you if you have questions please post them to the chat area. Indicate which presenter your question is for and send it to all participants. We'll move on to Dick Gordon. If you give me a moment I'll get you set up.

Dick Gordon:

Thank you very much. In introduction, this presentation is based on a study that was led by Cansult for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. I should point out that due to other priorities the Ministry has not yet completed its review and has not endorsed any conclusions at this point.

I'd like to start with context. In central Ontario, the manufacturing sector is of critical importance to the economy. Recent changes in our trade policy and production logistics have resulted in a much greater importance being attached to transportation. And this slide shows there's been a change from what we call push logistics to pull logistics and that change is putting much more emphasis on the transportation system and much less emphasis on inventories. And the best example is the just in time inventory management systems. Originally embraced by the manufacturing sector and later embraced by the retail sector and these types of precision based inventory management approaches reduce the emphasis on inventories at all times. As a result what we're really seeing is warehouses that are mobile in nature and as this picture shows not necessarily in motion due to the increased congestions on our freeway networks. Strong transportation land use connections as you know and the performance of the system effects the location and the competitiveness of firms and overall economic health of the communities and overall urban regions.

Goods movement needs are not adequately incorporated in the way we plan and build transportation systems and think about planning for new development and this was going in premise to our study. What we set out to do was look to ways we could enhance the competitiveness of central Ontario firms relative to other locations in North America and in doing so improve the economic health of our overall region. And we looked at the guidelines from both a policy and a design perspective and from the design perspective at three levels: The systems level, facility level and operational level and what we concluded is we really have to start with an overview that goes beyond urban regions and that is done at the provincial or state level so it's incumbent upon these provinces or states to have a set of freight policies in place that address freight from a multimodal perspective and what we did in Ontario and probably you would find in most states is that the highway network forms the real back bone of the broader freight network. And in Ontario and specifically in the greater Toronto area this slide shows there are a number of freeway corridors that are being planned to enhance the overall route network and the planning for these corridors offer many opportunities for enhanced freight planning at the facility level. Also ports and airports are an important part of the multimodal freight network and the accessibility therefore to ports and airports is correct. Ports tend to cater to the lower value bulk freight that is carried over long distances whereas airports are catering to smaller high volume and time sensitive movement of goods.

This slide shows the evolution of an area in the adjacent to Pierson International Airport. In this area here, this area has developed into a real concentration of truck terminals and distribution centers and is ideally located because the components are on the west side and you can see also that they are close to one of our major freeways highway 401 and there's an interchange here so very well served by both the highway network and road and connector road system into the airport. When we looked at freight terminals and thought about where they might be located, we came up with this sketch which shows an ideal location for a freight terminal. Ideal from a number of perspectives. Not really shown here about the idea would be that it is isolated in an industrial or commercial area. It's close to major freeways and freeway network with an interchange located here. It's close to the interchange but not on top of it so the access is very good to the freeway network. It has multiple access to the arterial road network and corridor.

We looked at policy guidelines. And this process in Ontario but probably not different from various states we set out on the left side of the slide the processes from the top working down to a site detailed plan of developments. And as you know there should be transportation input into each of these five levels into the planning process and generally there is but that transportation input always isn't specific to or includes freight considerations. We just want to emphasize here at each of these five levels of transportation analysis there is or there are opportunities for freight considerations.

One of the other ideas that was developed during the course of the study was the idea of a freight audit done by municipalities and the freight audit has many components. We describe those here in this list and I won't go through them all in detail but they involve getting a good handle on the inventory of routes and facilities that serve freight in your municipality, where the generators are looking at the dangerous movement of dangerous goods in your municipality, the idea how you might measure levels of freight service and by putting this freight audit together, the output would really be a series of issues specific to any given municipality and ways and means of dealing with your community groups whether residential rate payers or business groups in terms of resolving the issues. Another aspect of the city lacking at truck routes and the networks that are set up to handle truck movement, this is one of the best example that is we found in the city of Mississauga. No restrictions by hours of the day for example and the route is, or the routes serve east west and north-south travel equally well. We found municipalities need to coordinate with adjacent municipalities how these truck routes interface and what we found in this case is that the interface was a real problem with the city to the north and so we need to engage and coordinate activities with adjacent municipalities another idea that was part related to bypass routes, this shows an arterial road to bypass a main street area in one of our suburbs, an area where there were a lot of historical buildings and really an old main street. When we look where major impairment areas located, they should be close to the freeway network with good access to the freeway and avoid undo amounts of truck traffic.

This slide shows a site plan prepared for a community shopping center. There is good and bad aspects as it relates to freight deliveries. On the good side a couple of accesses here and over on the west side into the shopping center allowing truck access generally to the rear of the majority of the shops and the grocery store that would provided the anchor. However, over on the west side of the site, a number of shops here where rear delivery was not provided for and as a result the deliveries would have to take place from the front of the stores and that would conflict with vehicle and pedestrian circulation.

Another idea was the idea of stakeholder groups. In the greater Toronto region, a move afoot to create a stakeholder group at the regional and/or interregional level but we found that as well, it would be a good idea to create smaller groups that would be municipal specific and that you would be able to get, for example, ratepayer groups and business groups together at the table with industrial shippers and industries that generate a lot of truck traffic together with municipal staff and politicians and get everybody talking to each other. We undertook a number of interviews with freight stakeholders during the course of the study and found very little dialogue with municipalities and as most of the impacts filter up through politicians at the local level, this sort of dialogue was important.

We looked at design issues, we looked at the largest vehicle that's allowed on our road networks, a 75 foot tractor trailer combination and this ought to be the vehicle that we design streets and roads for and you can see the turning templates here and the impact those have on the design of intersections. At the facility level we looked at loading facilities and terminal design. This we thought would be an ideal underground facility. It accommodates a number of truck sizes, it accommodates bicycle couriers and bicycle parking in an area that's close to the office where security can be provided. It accommodates a queuing area, it tucks the garbage bin away in a corner so it's not obstructing movement. Generally this would be an ideal guide to underground delivery facilities.

We looked at on-street situations and this sketch shows a strip retail area where at the top we're showing two lanes in each direction. There would be parking provided on the curb lane and during off peak hours and what we're suggesting is that could be shared use of those parking spaces to facilitate delivery of goods. In many because they are not lanes that facilitate delivery of goods from the rear so if you don't have designated spots at the front of the buildings then what's to happen is that you're going to have double parking which is going to have real impact on the operation of an arterial. We also had a look at bicycle courier requirements. These are restricted to major downtowns or major centers and it doesn't take too much to accommodate bicycle racks within the street allowance and generally these are things that can be easily dealt with but they do require that you think about them.

Based on our study we developed a framework for municipal goods movement action plan with four major components. First starting out with a sound policy framework that related to your official plan or major planning documents. Secondly founded on a freight audit that provides the information and the data that engineers need to know what the requirements and the needs of the freight industry are. Thirdly that there's linkage between planning and transportation planning at all areas of the approval and development approval process and finally that we open up lines of communication between all of the various stakeholders including the neighboring municipalities that we have to talk to in order to get our intermunicipal truck routes in order.

So in summery the guidelines provided lots of ideas for formulating an official plan or transportation master plan policies. They provided linkages between the planning process and the transportation planning and land use processes that there are various education aids largely graphic that help to explain the problems that freight industry come across. The day-to-day basis and provided guides as well to provided coordination and communication with various stakeholders. Overall what we feel are a good set of practical solutions for every day issues. And in conclusion we confirm that most municipalities do not provide a pro active plan for dealing with freight. Certainly a compelling economic development interest and rationale for doing that, all sorts of opportunities for doing it, we just have to think about it beforehand and follow through with it. The guidelines we've prepared are for the most part generic so they can be applied in other urban regions not just central Ontario and that we've really provided a framework for specific municipal goods movement action plans. So in conclusion we are not able to put our report forward to individuals in municipalities just yet. The ministry of Ontario hopefully will conclude its review in the next few months and if any of you are interested, please stay in touch with me directly and I will be able to forward material to you just as soon as we get the release from the Minister. Thank you.

J. Seplow:

Thank you. At the end of all three presentations I'll put up the slide which has the e-mail addresses of all presenters. If you do have questions, please type them in the chat area and indicate which presenter your question is for and make sure you send your questions to all participants. We're now going to move on to Roberta Weisbrod of the Partnership for Sustainable Ports. I going to be flipping the slides for her today so you'll hear her saying click and that's just the indication to go to the next slide.

Roberta Weisbrod:

(Slide 1) Thank you for this invitation to make a presentation in this important series on freight planning.

(Slide 2) This work was based on a study conducted for Union County. Union County is important because it's the site of the seaport for the New York metropolitan area. Major seaport terminals are in or near Union County as is the Newark International Airport. In this region, freight-related real estate is at a premium. Union County has under-utilized former industrial land that they wondered could be applied to a freight village and asked us to investigate.

(Slide 3) What I'm going to talk about today is: about freight villages, their definition, characterization and value; the impetus for the U.S. study and the Union County experience; and then the relationship of freight villages with context sensitive design. You will learn how CSD principles can inform freight villages and how the thought behind freight villages can inform our thinking about context sensitive design. Finally I'll discuss the needed avenues for further analysis.

(Slide 4) What are freight villages? Clusters of freight related businesses in a secure perimeter, single management, master planned, near cities, high quality settings with support services and amenities.

(Slide 5) Where are they found? There are over 40 freight villages in Europe, in ten nations. They are networked with each other; the freight village networks have web sites.

(Slide 6) We reviewed all 40 freight villages and surveyed ten and then investigated intensively in-depth four. The four are the Sogaris in Rungis near Paris; the ZAL (Zona Activadades Logisticas) of Barcelona; the GVZ (abbreviation for a word meaning distribution center); and Eurocentre near Toulouse. We identify the freight villages with the names of the cities they are near, as shown on this slide. Of these four we chose, I visited Paris and Barcelona, Gerhard Muller visited Bremen. We wanted to see if there was any difference between the oldest freight (which was the one near Paris, near Orly airport.) and the most recent, Eurocentre of Toulouse, so we selected the latter as our fourth village.

We looked at their size and other features to determine whether the Union County site was applicable. You can see the size varies from 125 to over 700 acres. Regarding the locational characteristics, all are near urban centers within ten miles from the city. Some are near seaports, some not. All are near rail. All are with direct access to major highways. All with strong public sector involvement. All have many businesses, at least 50. At this point Toulouse, still under construction, has 30 businesses but they anticipate having 50 by the end of 2005.

(Slide 7) About their functions, the top photo shows warehouses in Barcelona. And the bottom photo shows the extensive rail network of Toulouse. Freight villages possess multimodal options, integrated transfer opportunities, provide logistic services, and rich in freight options.

(Slide 8) More photographs showing freight village operations in Barcelona: the transfer of containers, a typical forklift operation, and to the lower right an amenity, the light airy restaurant for workers. At the top, the most impressive feature is the free bus that takes workers to and from the city to the freight village. This is a real plus for all (freight businesses as well as the urban economy) in terms of access to jobs.

(Slide 9) These photos are from the freight village near Paris, showing smart warehousing, as well as the staff involved with assisting in freight logistics. There are also showrooms, customs agents onsite, integrated distribution and support services.

(Slide 10) What support services? There is 24hour perimeter security; maintenance, both of buildings and landscape, as well as office space, conference rooms, banks, et cetera.

(Slide 11) This slide shows the layout of a freight village. I draw your attention to the left of the restaurant box the space signifying a sports area. You will find jogging trails and green spaces for walking and for other recreational opportunities for the workers and for the management.

(Slide 12) Additional support services: I want to point out two aspects of the support that are very, very important. One is the employment agency and training facility because this is a way of providing not only the physical access to jobs that we saw by the transit bus but also the functional access. Having a big hiring hall to sort out potential employees to the right facility and having training for the employees is very important in terms of job access. And finally another important aspect I wanted to draw your attention to is the truck stop. With hours of service (regulations for truck drivers) and just-in-time delivery competing against each other, truck stops are a solution to meeting the two competing demands. There are relatively few, especially in the northeast, so that having a high amenity truck stop plus jogging trail, restaurants, et cetera, would be helpful for curbing another problem—high job turnover among truck drivers.

(Slide 13) About inappropriate uses of freight villages: We made a point of taking what was implicit and making it explicit because of the threat to the Union County site for the storage of empty containers. These are high quality sites that require a lot of investments so passive storage is not appropriate. They have secure perimeters so uncontrolled public use, such as retail is not appropriate. Neither is heavy manufacturing appropriate in these high quality areas.

(Slide 14) The benefits to businesses are that they are efficient, create efficient business situations with plenty of opportunities for businesses to extend their reach.

(Slide 15) The benefits to the urban areas are that they create high value land, they reduce truck vehicle miles traveled, congestion and, again provide jobs in urban areas, and are aesthetically pleasing. Esthetics has been noted numerous times. I want to show you the next slide, which shows one example.

(Slide 16) This is an office building associated with the Barcelona by an internationally known architect, Ricardo Bofill. It's on the road between the airport and the city of Barcelona and is part of the fabric of Barcelona -- having buildings with flair. It's a positive augmentation of the Barcelona experience and it's a freight facility. That's how dramatically exciting it is.

(Slide 17) What has been the impetus for freight villages in the U.S.? But before I tell you that I want to tell you about the impetus in Europe. Freight villages started in the late 60s-early 70s in response to the energy crisis at that time, that we also experienced. The interest and growth of the freight villages is not only to help enable freight transport but also is in response to energy policy on the part of the Europeans: petroleum products are expensive and freight villages are seen as a way of reducing energy use.

In the U.S. it's the urban freight dilemma. Cities are the market for trade and freight and benefit from them in terms of cheap goods and jobs and associated businesses. However what's needed for freight businesses are the kind of real estate that's scarce and expensive in cities for warehousing and distribution. Consequently warehousing and distribution is sited further and further from the city. Some of the facilities are 30 and 40 miles from the urban market adding to congestion and emissions and also adding to the problem for business to conduct itself in terms of getting goods to and from where they have to be and negative to both business and urban quality of life. In a sense there is a negative feedback from the valued trade. The impetus for freight villages is this urban freight dilemma.

(Slide 18) Just wanted to show the map of the site. Tremley Point is the small peninsula in the center. The rail system, which parallels the interstate, is to the left of it. Due north is the seaport area. Due northeast is Manhattan, central business district. Tremley Point is less than ten miles to lower Manhattan. So it's rich in freight, and close to the urban market.

(Slide 19) What the problem is that it's a classic brownfield, which also has wetlands laced through it. Though Tremley Point is well located, there's an apparent difficulty in using it for this kind of facility. Let's see what are the drivers and how the problem was solved.

(Slide 20) Another map, this one showing Tremley Point in a regional context.

(Slide 21) The negative drivers include the local roads of truck traffic both in the county and throughout the metropolitan area as well as the negative driver of the threat of having the storage of empty containers. There are also positive drivers: Successful waves of brownfield development in northern New Jersey; the growth of the port at 10% per year over few years promised opportunities for investment; again the need for freight-related real estate; also municipal solid waste plans would have improved the infrastructure for freight. The county made a creative leap to consider freight villages as a result of reading Gerhard Muller's book (Intermodal Freight Transportation). Finally the Tremley Point freight village concept was encouraged by a North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA- the regional MPO) study.

(Slide 22) The NJTPA study encouraged the use of brownfields because they realized that they could be the perfect freight infrastructure since they are located near freight opportunities -- near rail and near water. Furthermore the study showed that relatively small parcels of land could be used for high value smart warehouses, that one didn't need large parcels of land but the lean manufacturing smart warehouse would have a small footprint and fit into small parcels, as could Planned Unit Developments for freight. (I don't have time to discuss planned unit developments at this time --but although they were somewhat applicable, we have found they would not be as beneficial as freight villages because of the lack of as much value added services. Nevertheless the NJTPA study definitely gave encouragement for Union County to proceed with its freight village study.

(Slide 23) Answering the question about the feasibility of Tremley Point as a freight village, we found that the available acreage fit neatly into what was found to be needed in the European experience. The fact that the land is a Brownfield site means that the return on investments compensates for the clean up costs. Other advantages of the site, that it is near the city and near freight facilities, enhanced the likelihood of high return on investment. The only limitation was the lack of direct interstate access.

(Slide 24) Union County began seeking to improve access to the interstate highway, working with the state DOT as well as doing all the right things in terms of context sensitive design, consulting with the city of Linden, with the state, with private investors and working with adjacent counties.

(Slide 25) A paper on this work-- on the European experience, on the Union County experience and on planned unit developments -- was prepared for presentation at the TRB Annual meetings in 2002 and 2003. The paper is available on request.

(Slide 26) And now what I'd like to finish by analyzing freight villages in terms of context sensitive design. Freight villages respect the value of urban lands. Land is scarce and not to be wasted; freight villages respect the value of urban lands in three major ways. One is to encourage and promote the use of (otherwise wasted) brownfields because you get good return on investment; they promote smart growth near the urban area; and they promote high-density development. Precious lands if used conservatively with a lower footprint than would individual businesses. Furthermore they add jobs to the region; they also make consolidation of deliveries possible. In addition there's natural area protection in the enhancement. (One small example – Eurocentre in Toulouse sets aside 10% of the land for parks and natural resource protection).

(Slide 27) But freight villages have issues that have been criticized. Those issues have been raised by the European Union and to a lesser extent at the TRB meetings. The major criticism is top-down planning and consequently non-market decision making, with the criticism there may be overbuilding of the number of freight villages. Another criticism is the consolidation goal, especially of the German freight villages, is not always achieved and when it has been, it is at the expense of business efficiency. Use of context sensitive design principles, particularly consultation, will avoid most European Union mistakes.

(Slide 28) The concept behind freight villages can improve the concept of context sensitive design. First is to make explicit improving the environment. Context sensitive design speaks to preserving the environment but it should go beyond that in terms of reduction of air emissions, reduction of vehicle miles traveled, reduction of congestion -- that's one major point. The next three points are related: improving business efficiency; allowing urban area workers access to jobs; improving work conditions of management and labor—they all speak to the issue of consultation and collaboration. However, the stakeholders that have the least amount of time to come to the table early and often and yet are the critical stakeholders (we've seen this in freight working groups) are actually the principals, the businesses especially small business, and the workers. So I would suggest that the concept of context sensitive design be expanded to incorporate the aspects of increasing business efficiency, which include reducing congestion and cost and energy use; allowing labor access to jobs both by transit and highway; and improving work conditions of management and labor. In particular as I noted before we have a very, very high turnover of truck drivers, which with improved work conditions as exist in freight villages, would be curbed.

(Slide 29) The issues to consider and research are those that would make the case for freight villages and improve their outcomes, improve benefits. The reason why that is needed is in cases where land is not a premium, which would encourage freight villages or communities to sprawl, it's important to quantify why a compact high-density area is beneficial and useful. Another area to consider and improve their outcome (and this is related to urban planning considerations) is to maximize the public benefits by creating spillover so not to have the classic European model of perimeter, everything contained within, but certain of the features of freight villages should be outside the walls such as business, supply, office supply, businesses, some restaurants, some vehicle leasing so that both the urban area, the public area can benefit economically, directly and make the same use of the services. (This idea of spillover is a theory of Alex Garvin, who is an urban planner). Again the value for the private and public sectors should be quantified as a way of encouraging investment and also helping to determine which side should invest in what aspect. Similarly the return on investment for both the public and private sectors should be quantified again to help start the public/private partnership. Finally freight villages last for decades and should be designed for the future both structurally and in terms of being welcoming to new technology. I thank you for your attention and we'll be glad to answer any questions.

J. Seplow:

Thank you, Roberta. I hope everybody found all of these presentations interesting. Before I start off with the question and answer session, Federal Highway is planning for the 2006 Talking Freight Seminar Series and would like to ask your help in thinking of topics. If you have ideas, please feel free to type it in or send me an e-mail. With that I'm going to start the question and answer session, starting with questions for Roberta. The first question is can existing facilities and freight areas be considered freight villages? Do you need certain characteristics to be considered a freight village?

R. Weisbrod:

Yes. You need a contained area in a perimeter and fairly compact area with businesses. A standard intermodal facility with one business would not be considered a freight village. Maybe I'm not understanding the question.

J. Seplow:

For the person who asked the question if you would like to further elaborate we'll come back to that. The next question is with an increase in logistic hubs, are freight villages better resourced for local or regional markets?

R. Weisbrod:

I think designed in Europe for regions, so I would say both.

J. Seplow:

The next question is I can see freight villages deteriorated and overrun with undesired activity especially when a large number of persons and buildings are involved. What needs to be done to ensure a high quality appearance?

R. Weisbrod:

Good question. That's why you need one management entity that has a strict set of rules and regulations that have to be followed and has to maintain maintenance of the facility. You really have to be a controlled process.

J. Seplow:

With regard to truck stops, are the truck stops electrified so drivers can turn off their engines?

R. Weisbrod:

Certainly that's a very good idea. I don't know if that's done in Europe. I know that's something that we in New York State are promoting. But the real problem is that there are a dearth of truck stops within the shadow of the urban area; we need them to make schedules (for just-in-time delivery) and to maintain the hours of service.

J. Seplow:

And following on with another question about emissions. I can understand how congestion can be reduced thus reducing emissions on the road but will the village concentrate emissions on the road?

R. Weisbrod:

The short answer is, no. None of the emissions have been quantified but we think it would be a good study. Freight villages have the opportunity to consolidate delivery thereby reducing local emissions so they certainly have the potential for reducing regional emissions. A question could be asked to quantify what would happen to emissions in that immediate area.

J. Seplow:

The next question is how do you foster a dialogue on the concept of freight villages in areas with significant freight activity versus areas without freight activity in an urban area. How can freight villages be related to community goals particularly with residential encroachment on freight intensive land. How do you foster a dialogue with communities and officials on the concept of freight villages versus urban areas without activity?

R. Weisbrod:

I think there are very few urban areas that don't have freight activity, at least in New York City in my experience as a public official. Truck traffic emissions are a major issue. And it seems when I visit in other parts of the nation, even smaller cities it's a major issue, so that place doesn't exist. And because it is an issue almost everywhere, it's raised by the communities, so usually it's a bottom-up issue of truck traffic impacting the local community. Thus there would be an impetus to examine freight villages as indeed there is; I know at this moment the metropolitan transportation council, the metropolitan area of New York City's MPO, will be studying freight villages so the answer is it's really bottom up, the neighbors communities are constantly complaining about truck freight and any improvements would be welcome. And the next question?

J. Seplow:

How can freight villages be related to context design and goals with encroachment on freight intensive land uses?

R. Weisbrod:

I guess the second part of the question about encroachment, that's a big problem and why warehouses and distribution centers have been located outside the urban areas. The opportunity of those land that have been blights on the community, the brownfields that have been underutilized, they could be converted to freight villages and could be augments to the urban fabric, one by providing jobs, two by preserving green space and a bright green perimeter and an aesthetic perimeter that again relates to the urban fabric, so they can be real assets while solving problems.

J. Seplow:

Aren't the concepts of spillover mutually exclusive?

R. Weisbrod:

There are certain functions that do not have to be within the confines of the freight village. They has been classically put there by the Europeans but certain of the services that don't need the security could be located outside. While a cafe is convenient to the workers, the high-end restaurant can be just outside; most of the hotels generally are outside; the office supply store could be outside; vehicle leasing could be outside; even the employment hall could be outside. The training space could serve multiple functions. That's something the United States initiatives could do better than the Europeans in that regard if they thought it through.

J. Seplow:

One more question for you, Roberta, I'm with a person at Federal Highway and he'll ask you the question. I wanted to ask how do freight villages fit in with the larger context of what is in the freight economy. Specifically where manufacturers are expecting things to be nearby and the storage and holding of goods and so on and so forth. More recent trends suggest that freight facilities need to expand in size and use more land so the question is how do you reconcile that in urban areas where you are sensitive to not using as much land and is the nature of the activity changing as a result of that and those you're serving, how do they respond to that?

R. Weisbrod:

The nature of warehousing as you've suggested is changing and they are smaller, leaner, with narrower aisles. Less passive storage and sprawling spaces and more goods in the supply chain, warehouse processing activity as a node with quick packaging activity and out it goes. So the goods don't stay long in the warehouse. They move quickly and consequently you can have the smaller footprint. Does that answer your question, sir?

J. Seplow:

Okay. We're going to move on. We have two questions for Dick Gordon that have been typed in and we'll be getting to the close after that. Dick, the first question is you mentioned municipalities need to network. How do you suggest to foster this dialogue in a home rule state?

D. Gordon:

I don't quite understand the home rule state. Can you help me there? It means local government makes land use decisions. I believe that adjacent municipalities probably between different regions in one state or between states. I guess generally in urban areas there are forums or should be forums set up where transportation planners, for example in one municipality are talking to their colleagues in adjacent municipalities so that would be a good starting point and it could be done within a broader framework of larger transportation network concerns or coordination of new facilities that across boundaries.

J. Seplow:

I think that question may have come from one of the examples where you had given adjacent communities coordinated on their truck networks. How did you get the adjacent communities to talk to each other.

D. Gordon:

That's the easy part would be getting them to talk to each other. Getting them agree would be another matter because of the political aspects of creating restrictions for truck routes through residential areas, that kind of thing. I'm not saying the answer is going to be easy to arrive at but you've got to be talking to each other.

J. Seplow:

Thank you. The next question for you is when will the guidelines be available and how can we get a copy? Also can you briefly highlight the key strategies identified in the guidelines to help local jurisdictions proactively plan for freight movement?

D. Gordon:

I would hope that the guidelines will be available by the fall of this year. I can't guarantee it; however, it's residing with the province at this point and depends on their priorities. And as I indicated before if you have an interest, you can contact me directly on a month-to-month basis and I can advise you of the status. And when they are released I'll have details of when. They'll be mounted on the Ministry's web site.

J. Seplow:

Can you highlight some of the within the guidelines to help jurisdictions proactively plan for movement.

D. Gordon:

Those are really summarized by the slide I had that showed the four components of municipal action plans starting with a sound framework. So that's going to deal with high level planning documents, official plans, structure plans growth management plans and transportation master plans if those are in place. So those would be the appropriate kind of vehicles to ensure that you've got good policy dealing with freight movement included in those pursued policy documents and the guidelines provide examples of the kind of policy that is would be appropriate for those documents. Secondly by conducting a freight audit in your own municipality, the key routes they use, the limitations on those routes. For example you may have a number of bridge structures that aren't high enough to accommodate exceptional loads. And that you therefore want to take advantage of opportunities when rehabing certain bridge structures that you might raise the vertical clearance, for example, of bridges. So those are the kind of thing that is would out of a freight audit. Integrating freight into your normal every day planning practices and we've given a lot of examples about how you might do that when considering applications. An example of the community shopping center site plan is one example in that area. The report includes many others and in the area of opening up communications, we feel the key idea is to create stakeholder forum for freight specifically and make sure all the appropriate stakeholders get together on a regular basis to discuss particular issues and how those could be resolved.

J. Seplow:

Thank you. That's all the questions we had typed in. I realize it's the closing time. We'll open up the phone lines just to see if anybody they want to ask over the phone. We'll do that and wait a mint minute or two and if there's no questions we'll close the seminar.


If you have audio questions press star followed by 1 on the touch tone telephone. Star 1 if you'd like to ask a question over the audio. We'll pause a moment to compile a list. Your first question from the line of Robert Baird.


I have a question for Roberta Weisbrod. I'm a little bit unclear from the slides and the discussion that followed about how context design could overcome one of the big problems in Europe which are the economic drivers of these freight villages and avoiding the problem of overbuilding or building in the wrong location. How does that process work?

R. Weisbrod:

Thank you. Glad you joined the group here. The big issue was the top down planning and the total resistance because it's purely governmental. No need to take into account market forces. I perceive sort of generalizing from the Union County experience there's going to be a public/private partnership and that given the public and private sector I think will be more responsive to market signals. So you won't have the overbuilding because the private sector would be less likely to invest if they felt there were numerous of these facilities in the area or in the region.


And how will that dialogue take place?

R. Weisbrod:

There's a good question and I think probably in the ordinary manner which is first a large series of promotion on the part of government and then very likely through some sort of RSP process.


Again, ladies and gentlemen, for any audio questions press star followed by 1. Ladies and gentlemen, you have no audio questions at this time.

J. Seplow:

Thank you. Well, with that I think we will close today's seminar. Thank you to all three presenters. We appreciate your presentations and thank you to everybody in the audience for attending today. The recorded version will be available within the next week on the Talking Freight web site The next seminar will be held on June 15, and is titled "Statewide Freight Planning Considerations." If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to visit the Talking Freight Web Site and sign up for this seminar. I also encourage you to join the Freight Planning LISTSERV if you have not already done so. We'll post the seminars for the remaining of the year, July through December, shortly so please check back frequently. If you do have ideas for topics, feel free to send me an e-mail with a description as well as potential speakers you can think of for the topic. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day.

Updated: 3/29/2011
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000