Freight is defined as property or goods transported in bulk by truck, train, ship or aircraft. Many sectors, such as industry, retail, agriculture, international trade, and terminal operations, rely on the efficient movement of freight within and through a region, and thus it is essential to integrate freight planning into statewide and metropolitan transportation planning processes. Specifically, incorporating freight planning into traditional transportation planning processes allows for targeted policies and investments to improve freight mobility and efficiency.
Elements of successful freight planning integration include:
Coordination and collaboration with public and private stakeholders is important during the freight planning process. State DOTs and MPOs should engage the public and private sector in data collection, identifying project need and prioritization, conducting special studies, contributing to multimodal and modal transportation plans, providing input on issues associated with specific construction projects, participating in stakeholder meetings, and conducting interviews with freight stakeholders.(National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Guidebook for Integrating Freight into Transportation Planning and Project Selection Processes)
State DOTs and MPOs are required to carry out a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive statewide and metropolitan transportation planning process that provides for consideration and implementation of projects, strategies, and services that will: increase accessibility and mobility of people and freight and to enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes, for people and freight (23 CFR 450.206 (a)(4)(6) and (23 CFR 450.306(b) (4)(6)).
The MAP-21 Act and the FAST Act Performance Management rules also require planners to measure system performance and freight movement. Close coordination with freight industry stakeholders is essential to ensuring quality data is used to identify freight needs and bottlenecks and monitoring the performance of the freight transportation system.
State DOTs and MPOs have incorporated freight movement issues into their planning activities by:
23 CFR 450.306(d)(4)(vi) requires MPOs to integrate in the metropolitan transportation planning process, directly or by reference, the goals, objectives, performance measures, and targets described in other State transportation plans and transportation processes, as well as any plans developed under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53 by providers of public transportation, required as part of a performance-based program including appropriate (metropolitan) portions of the State Freight Plan (MAP-21 § 1118).
23 CFR 490.601 implements the requirements of 23 U.S.C. 150(c)(6) to establish performance measures for State DOTs and MPOs to assess the national freight movement on the Interstate System.
23 CFR 490.613 establishes the methodology requirements for State DOTs and MPOs to calculate the Freight Reliability Measure.
23 CFR 490.107(b)(ii)(D) When submitting Mid Performance Period Progress Reports, State DOTs are required to include a discussion on how they are addressing congestion at truck freight bottlenecks within the State through Statewide and MPO planning documents, regional or corridor activities and other planning related efforts.