A framework for integrating freight into MPO transportation planning
Lindsey, Christopher Lamar
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Given the regional nature of freight movement, the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is one of the most appropriate agencies to deal directly with this challenge. However, most metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) have little experience planning for freight. There is a need for a planning framework that MPOs can use to incorporate freight considerations into the planning process. The purpose of this research is to analyze the freight planning efforts of a number of MPOs and provide a conceptual framework for integrating freight into transportation planning. The methodology used to conduct this research was the case study approach. Information regarding the freight planning activities of several large MPOs were obtained both through collection of available on-line documents and, when appropriate, through direct contact with MPO representatives. Subsequently, this was reviewed and summarized into case studies that noted the nature of the freight planning activities, the process by which MPOs conducted studies, and the components of those studies. Finally, a conceptual framework for incorporating freight into transportation planning was developed based on the data collected and the case studies. As a result of these studies, it was concluded that MPOs are beginning to address freight movement concerns, but there are still deficiencies in their planning processes that the conceptual framework could highlight. These deficiencies are primarily in the areas of performance measure development, the implementation of freight programs, and the appearance of only nominal freight planning efforts. In addition to these deficiencies, there are certain obstacles that must be addressed and overcome. These include a lack of data, the level of sophistication found in freight modeling, the participation of freight stakeholders in the planning process, and the lack of freight-specific dollars for transportation investment.