Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations


Section 1106(d) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) directed the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a review of the National Highway System (NHS) freight connectors that serve seaports, airports, and other major intermodal terminals. The objectives were to: (1) evaluate the condition of NHS connector highway infrastructure to major intermodal freight terminals; (2) review improvements and investments made or programmed for these connectors; and (3) identify impediments and options to making improvements to the intermodal freight connectors.

The Federal Highway Administration undertook a field inventory of the connectors in the fall of 1998. There were 616 intermodal freight terminals (253 ocean and river ports, 99 airports, 203 truck/rail terminals, and 61 pipeline/truck terminals). Some of the major findings were: (1) Intermodal connectors that primarily serve freight terminals have significant mileage with pavement deficiencies and generally exhibit inferior physical and operational performance when compared with other similar NHS facilities: (2) An analysis of investment practices shows a general lack of awareness and coordination for freight improvements within the MPO planning and programming process; and (3) Given the pressing needs for passenger-related related projects, there is little incentive for investing in freight projects that appear to primarily benefit only a small freight constituency.

The report identifies options for improving the connectors and freight flow efficiency in four areas: (1) Awareness and Coordination – improving the planning and implementation of freight projects; (2) Information Technologies – alternatives to building infrastructure by using "infostructure" to achieve intermodal system optimization through information technologies; (3) Funding – presents a full range of funding mechanisms; and (4) Community and Environmental Responsiveness – discusses alternatives to minimizing the impact of freight operations and improvements on the adjacent communities.

previous | next
Office of Operations