Best planning and implementation toolbox


Purpose of Tool:
Freight transportation is usually provided through any of the following modes: truck, air, train, water, and pipeline. As goods are transported between two locations, the mode used to transport them can change along the route, such as water to rail and rail to truck. Where exchanges of goods between different modes of transportation occur, an “intermodal” facility is used to accommodate the exchange. Intermodal facilities require unique design and land configurations to support a variety of transportation modes, and, because they are often located in industrial or port areas, should be designed with compatible non-residential land uses in mind. These land uses, which could include industrial and commercial development, should not conflict with freight transportation activity, and may be planned to specifically support it. For instance, rather than allowing the construction of a residential subdivision near a freight railroad yard, a community may choose to allow the development of commercial uses that support the railroad and freight industries.

Nationally, the volume of freight and goods moved throughout the transportation system has grown significantly over the past few decades, and is projected to increase another nearly 70 percent by 2020. As the demand for goods and services grows, there is a greater concern about congestion, safety and security, and the environment. Therefore, understanding and improving freight transportation, streamlining supply chain processes and consolidating freight receiving facilities is becoming a higher priority at all levels of government and in the private sector.

Benefits of Using Tool:
New intermodal partnerships among rail, truck, and ocean carriers offer enhanced mobility by shifting traffic from congested highways to the rail or marine shipping network, and offer environmental benefits by employing the cleanest possible technologies to minimize impacts on air quality.

Economic benefits include an increase in annual employment and tax revenues in areas that can efficiently accommodate increased commercial activity. Additional public benefits include savings in fuel consumption, reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and significant reduction of long haul truck volumes on highways.

Steps Involved to Use Tool:
The following steps comprise the basic elements of intermodal freight planning:
  • Identify a freight transportation industry expert to help lead the planning process
  • Coordinate the relevant government entities, metropolitan planning organization, community groups and freight stakeholders
  • Identify key beneficiaries of an improved intermodal freight facility
  • Understand the regional freight system
  • Link freight planning and transportation planning and programming activities
  • Assess and collect freight data
  • Reach out to Chambers of Commerce, public sector agencies and economic development agencies
  • Undertake freight-related training & education opportunities
  • Engage in advocacy

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Key challenges and considerations for freight planning include:
  • Maintaining and improving national security
  • Coordinating among several jurisdictions or public sector agencies and private companies to reach a consensus on practical solutions
  • Gaining the support of project beneficiaries who may be geographically removed from the project location
  • Identifying sources of financing for implementation
  • Working with local communities to balance costs and benefits
  • Designing access to key facilities, such as ports, to minimize traffic impacts on local street networks

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    The cost effectiveness of intermodal freight facility construction and operation depends largely on the availability of non-industry funding sources.
    Some funding programs available for intermodal freight facilities include:
    1. Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program
    2. Borders and Corridors Program
    3. CMAQ programs
    4. State infrastructure banks
    5. Safety funds
    6. Federal earmarks
    7. State and local tax revenues
    8. Bonds
    9. Railroads (RRIF)
    10. Port authorities
    11. Private
    12. User fees
    13. Transportation Improvement District

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
    Communities and agencies that have successfully used intermodal freight planning include the following:

    1. The Port of Houston Authority
    111 East Loop North,
    Houston, TX 77029
    Contact: Mr. Roger Guenther, Manager
    (713) 670-2400

    2. Jacksonville Port Authority
    Government and External Affairs
    P.O. Box 3005
    2831 Talleyrand Ave
    Jacksonville, FL 32206-0005
    (904) 357-3000

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    The following case studies illustrate the impact that successful intermodal freight facilities can have on reducing harmful emissions.
    1. Columbia Slough Intermodal Expansion Bridge, Portland, OR: This bridge was constructed for freight trains to directly access a deep-water port facility, which would eliminate the need for truck trips between the ship and the rail cars. The total cost of the project was $6.1 million, comprised of $1 million in CMAQ funds, $2.1 million in demonstration funds, and $3 million in private funds. The estimated truck emissions reductions were 52 kg/day VOC, 241 kg/day CO, and 364 kg/day NOx.

    2. Waterville Intermodal Facility, Waterville ME: A transportation company constructed an intermodal truck-to-rail transfer facility, including storage areas, staging and other facilities. The transfer facility is located near an interstate highway, allowing trailers and containers to move via rail, reducing heavy truck traffic and diesel emissions. The total project cost was $3 million, including $1.2 million in CMAQ funds. The estimated emissions reductions were 28 kg/day VOC, and 6.3 kg/day NOx.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
    See the following sources for more information: