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NHS Freight Connectors Summary and Updates

NHS freight connectors are the public roads that connect major intermodal terminals to the highway network. They are critical components of our transportation system and important conduits for the timely and reliable delivery of goods and services. Hence, it is important to evaluate the condition and performance of intermodal connectors and their related investment needs.

Public roads leading to major intermodal terminals are designated NHS connectors by the U.S. Department of Transportation, in cooperation with state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). Several criteria are considered, including the level of activity of an intermodal terminal and its importance to a state's economy. There are 517 freight-only terminals and 99 major airports that handle both passengers and freight. These 616 intermodal freight terminals are connected to the NHS by 1,222 miles of connectors (Table 1).

Table 1. NHS Connector Mileage
Function Class Mileage
Total Rural and Urban 1,222
Rural 219
Interstate 5
Other principal arterial 32
Minor arterial 57
Major collector 88
Minor collector 7
Local 30
Urbana 1,004
Interstate/Expressway 89
Other principal arterial 438
Minor arterial 294
Collector 117
Local 66

Note: Numbers do not add to total due to rounding.
aUrban encompasses facilities within an FHWA-adjusted Census urbanized area (UA). A UA is an area of 50,000 people or more with a minimum population density. Census UAs are adjusted to include additional areas, such as airports, satellite cities/towns, and strip developments adjacent to high-use roadways, that are important to or serve the urbanized area and, in some cases, land that will become urban in the near future (3-5 years).

Although intermodal connectors account for less than 1 percent of total NHS mileage, they handle large volumes of trucks moving goods between terminals and the NHS or other modes. Intermodal connectors also support defense mobilization and national security. Because of the military's increasing reliance on commercial transportation to move supplies and personnel, intermodal linkages to ports and airports have become an integral part of national defense planning.

Criteria for Modifications to NHS

To determine whether a road qualifies for inclusion as a connector road on the NHS, see the criteria for qualifying intermodal terminals under 23 CFR 470-Appendix D.

Update Procedures for NHS Mainline and NHS Intermodal Connectors

According to the Guidelines, the State DOT must initiate the request and provide coordinating documentation with local officials (i.e., if not an MPO, then affected cities or towns that are impacted by the proposed NHS connector; this includes any available supplemental information from port authorities).

NHS Intermodal Connectors

The current list of NHS intermodal connectors is updated on an ongoing basis at the request of the State DOT.

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