Brookings report provides insight into the impacts of congestion on the freight industry

A new report from the Brookings Institution, and its associated interactive tool, study the flow of freight among U.S. metropolitan areas. The same metropolitan areas on which much of the nation’s freight system depends are also home to the most congested corridors. By graphically showing freight flows within the U.S., the report makes a strong argument that congestion in large metro areas interferes with interstate commerce.

Can passenger and freight rail coexist?

Amtrak is dealing with a steadily increasing problem of service delays. Timing conflicts with freight sharing the same tracks are a significant factor. A law passed by Congress in 2008 sets Amtrak on-time performance standards and considers any number below 80 percent as substandard. This same law requires that freight railroads give Amtrak priority on their tracks and allows Amtrak to penalize freight rail providers for giving dispatch priority to freight trains on Amtrak routes. However, a July 2013 U.S. Court of Appeals decision ended Amtrak’s power over freight lines, which has greatly contributed to the decline in on-time performance.

WebGIFT marks a promising step toward greener logistics

A new tool allows users to optimize their shipping modes and routes based on time, distance, or emissions. Users specify a transportation origin and destination and the specific types of trucks, trains, and marine vessels that would be used for each mode. It then identifies the best multimodal routes based on the factors selected by users. Three models drive the tool, two of which are integrated to provide the costs associated with operating different types of freight vehicles on the domestic multimodal network. A third, EmissionsCalc, calculates vehicle energy and emissions under different circumstances.

With increasing fatalities and inadequate infrastructure, NDDOT looks for big picture solutions

Booming populations and truck traffic, driven by the surging oil and gas industry, have led North Dakota to embark on the state’s first comprehensive state freight plan. The state now leads the nation in crash fatalities, The plan will identify freight bottlenecks along with obstacles, such as low hanging bridges and insufficient load capacities, which force trucks to take longer inefficient routes.

New report from SSTI discusses freight transportation demand management strategies

A new report, funded by SSTI with a matching grant from the Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education, identifies and evaluates freight transportation demand management strategies to improve transportation efficiency by reducing the social costs associated with goods movement in urban areas.

Getting the Goods Without the Bads: Freight Transportation Demand Management Strategies to Reduce Urban Impacts (SSTI, 2013)

This project, funded by SSTI with a matching grant from the Center for Freight Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE), identifies and evaluates strategies to reduce the social costs associated with goods movement in urban areas by managing freight transportation demand.

New York City reducing number of garbage trucks on its streets

New York City took a big step last month in its efforts to reduce the number of garbage trucks on city streets when it signed a 20-year, $3 billion contract with the waste-to-energy firm, Covanta. The firm plans to send about 30 percent of the city’s solid-waste to power-generating incinerators using primarily barges and railroads. This will help the city move closer to its goals of improving solid waste management and reducing associated negative impacts as cited in PlaNYC 2030, New York City’s effort to plan for one million more residents and the resulting impacts on the city’s quality of life.

Back to the future: crowded freeways and tight budgets lead some to call for a return to policies from 1984

During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, city officials scrambled for ways to accommodate the additional traffic as well as Angelinos’ normal daily activities. Today, the L.A. area is even more congested than it was in 1984, and some lawmakers are looking back to that time for ways to improve the situation. The strategies that have gotten the most attention are those that shift truck traffic to off-peak hours.