ATRI Report Offers Guidelines for Freight Plans

The American Transportation Research Institute released a report outlining the best practices for freight planning at the state level Feb. 27.

ATRI formed an “Ideal Attributes Checklist” after studying and scoring the freight plans of various states. Freight plans are blueprints detailing the organizations, commodities and trip metrics that characterize a particular freight network. To identify which plans to rank, ATRI solicited input from representatives of every state and territory. These representatives could nominate exemplary freight plans from either their own state, their neighboring states or the nation as a whole.

The 12 most-nominated states were Washington, California, Nevada, Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

ATRI State Freight Plan Best Practices 02-27-2018 by Transport Topics on Scribd

ATRI’s report identifies several common themes that appeared in most, if not all, of the most-nominated freight plans. These themes include a reliance on externally generated data to prioritize projects, the designation of critical rural and urban freight corridors and consultation with freight advisory committees, or FACs.

“One element identified as a best practice, however, was missing from all of the FACs reviewed in this research,” ATRI’s report states. “While many FACs provided guidance and support to the project prioritization process, no FAC had any direct decision authority in the project selection process. It appears that in most cases FACs exert some influence over the project selection process, but none of the freight plans referenced an ability for FACs to veto or add projects or priorities once the prioritization process has yielded a list of projects.”

We are excited to be able to contribute our knowledge base to this important effort and even more flattered that we were chosen by our peers as a model freight plan.

Caroline Mays, Texas Department of Transportation Freight Office

Texas ranked the highest of the 12 nominated states. According to the report, Texas’ high marks were based on the state’s use of commodity and freight flow data as well as engagement of its FAC.

“We are excited to be able to contribute our knowledge base to this important effort and even more flattered that we were chosen by our peers as a model freight plan,” said Caroline Mays, director of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Freight Office. “That said, our freight work has really just begun.”

This report is in response to a 2016 research objective in which ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee called for a standardization of freight plans throughout the country. The report acknowledges that “there is no one-size-fits-all solution to freight planning.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Draft National Freight Strategic Plan, the U.S. economy is projected to double in the next 30 years. To keep up with this growing consumer demand, freight movements are expected to increase by about 42%.


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