Collaboration is Key to Efficient Freight Movement and Regional Economic Vitality
June 06, 2012
The efficiency with which freight moves into, out of, and within regions is an important indicator of a region's economic vitality. Businesses that rely on the freight transportation system to obtain supplies and transport products are attracted to regions with well-placed intermodal hubs, roads in good repair with few bottlenecks, and easy access to rail, water, and air transportation. Effective freight systems can deliver goods where and when needed, while at the same time minimizing community and environmental impacts. Developing an efficient and effective multi-modal freight system in large metropolitan areas requires collaboration and coordination among many stakeholders—including shippers, carriers, third-party logistics agents, community groups, and local government agencies—and public and private transportation and logistics professionals, as well as concerted, focused efforts to support this coordination.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Metropolitan Council (Met Council), the metropolitan planning organization for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region, approached Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, to help improve collaboration among entities with a stake in the region's freight movement. MnDOT and Met Council sought to make freight more visible in the region's planning process and show a wide variety of stakeholders the vital importance of the freight system's performance in contributing to the health of the regional economy and to other strategic objectives such as safety, mobility, environmental sustainability, and infrastructure preservation.
Volpe produced a number of reports from its work for MnDOT and Met Council on freight collaboration in the Twin Cities region. These documents can provide guides to other states and metropolitan regions on how to improve freight efficiency, effectiveness, and collaboration among freight stakeholders.
The Twin Cities Metro Freight Initiative: Performance Management Framework, building from MnDOT and Met Council's existing planning and policy documents, develops a core set of freight measures and indicators for data collection, data analysis, and planning and policy application.
The Freight P2P Peer to Peer Program: Final Report describes highlights from a one-day peer exchange sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Freight Peer-to-Peer Program. The peer exchange facilitated information sharing on four freight topics among six participating organizations, including MnDOT and Met Council. The report outlines insights gained from the peer exchange on effective approaches for freight planning and other freight processes.
The Twin Cities Metro Freight Initiative: Report on Peer Best Practices documents key findings and best practices compiled from conversations with eight freight peers at state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations around the country. The report helps identify noteworthy examples of freight planning, programming, and outreach.
The Story of Freight in the Twin Cities highlights the importance of the region's freight transportation system to businesses and residents, particularly in terms of freight's contributions to regional economic development and quality of life. The report does the following:
- Provides an overview of the Twin Cities region and explains how a well-functioning, well-planned regional freight transportation system can support multiple strategic goals;
- Describes the significant role the freight transportation system has played in developing the region over time;
- Outlines trends and challenges that currently (and might in the future) affect the region's freight transportation infrastructure;
- Highlights projects that demonstrate where agencies and organizations have taken action to improve goods movement; and
- Explains how agencies and organizations (particularly those in the public sector) plan for and manage the regional freight transportation system today and in the future.
For more information, please contact Volpe project manager David Damm-Luhr at email@example.com or 617-494-2102.