Integrating Freight Considerations into the Highway Capacity Planning Process

November 2013

The practice of freight transportation planning has evolved significantly over the last decade, catalyzed by the enhanced freight planning requirements embodied in Safe Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and a growing national concern about insufficient freight capacity. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), state DOTs, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO)–the entities largely responsible for planning, programming, and delivering transportation projects–have started to invest in personnel, training, data, and consulting expertise to build freight programs that take into account the needs of freight stakeholders. This rise of freight planning reflects a broadening recognition of the economic, social, and environmental benefits of efficient goods movement. More recently, freight planning acknowledges the risk of diminishing transportation infrastructure productivity without wise planning and reinvestment, especially in our national highway system. Legislation reauthorizing the National highway program, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), enacted in July of 2012, enhances many of the concepts relating to freight from SAFETEA-LU, including the endorsement of freight advisory groups and development of statewide freight plans.