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Freight Planning

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Freight Planning

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Engaging the Private Sector in Freight Planning

A lack of understanding of business needs and public sector planning timelines hinders the effective integration of freight into many statewide and regional plans and transportation investment decisions. Developing and sustaining relationships, either formally or informally, with private sector stakeholders are critical to effective freight planning.

Why Engage?

Private sector stakeholders are a valuable resource in the overall statewide and metropolitan transportation planning process. Their involvement could help identify regional, statewide, and multijurisdictional challenges and influence transportation programming and investment decisions by local and state decisionmakers.

Topics of mutual interest:

  • Economic development
  • Congestion/capacity
  • Financing/funding
  • Environmental issues
  • Safety

Private sector input is important on a wide variety of transportation activities:

  • Planning
  • Design and construction
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Oversight and revenue collection

Who to Engage?

A cross section of all freight stakeholders in a state or region should be engaged, including:

  • Shippers
  • Carriers
  • Terminal operators
  • Economic development agencies
  • Seaport and airport authorities
  • State and local governments and other public agencies

How to Engage?

Here are several ways to engage the private sector:

  • Attend industry meetings. Reach out to freight stakeholders to learn about their issues, identify representatives, and build awareness of the public sector role.
  • Interview stakeholders. Scan or survey businesses to obtain first-hand knowledge about logistics patterns in a particular area and transportation issues, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Identify quick fixes with stakeholder input. Identify small-scale projects such as retiming traffic signals, installing directional signage from Interstate highways to freight facilities, and designating loading zones.
  • Establish a Freight Advisory Committee (FAC). Meet with key stakeholders to accomplish a specific activity or, on an ongoing basis, to integrate freight business perspectives in project selection and prioritization.

Federal Highway Administration Workshop: "Engaging the Private Sector in Freight Planning"

This free one-day workshop is designed for professionals tackling freight issues at metropolitan planning organizations, state departments of transportation, local governments, and economic development agencies. The workshop focuses on building a better understanding of the value of freight stakeholder input to the public sector planning process, identifying freight stakeholders, and engaging freight stakeholders in the planning process.

Participants should be familiar with freight terminology, issues, and trends before taking this workshop. Participants may consider attending the National Highway Institute course 139006, "Integrating Freight in the Transportation Planning Process" to prepare for the workshop. A list of additional training opportunities is available at

How do you create and sustain a FAC?

  • Identify key stakeholders in your state and region.
  • Designate a FAC facilitator.
  • Develop meeting agendas collaboratively, review survey findings, develop a list of actions and follow-through.
  • Meet no more than quarterly and at a convenient time for private sector participants. Meetings should be outcome-oriented.
  • Keep the committee focused on major efforts, such as capital programs, long-range plans, and work programs.
  • Demonstrate to the private sector that its efforts and input are being heard and considered by key decisionmakers.

"FACs are a great way to build awareness and enthusiasm about freight. And over time, FACs can spearhead efforts to include freight in all aspects of transportation planning."

Ted Dahlburg, Manager, Office of Freight Planning, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

FAC Noteworthy Practices

Delaware Valley Goods Movement Task Force supports freight mobility improvements in 9 counties, 4 cities, and 353 municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In 2003, the FAC influenced decisionmakers to obligate approximately $3 million from Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds for freight projects, including an automated marine terminal gate, truck rest facility, idling equipment, rail line extension, and transload and cross-dock facilities. For more information, visit

Florida Statewide Intermodal Transportation Advisory Council (SITAC) is a private-public partnership focused on addressing the needs of Florida's intermodal freight transportation industry. Its early accomplishments include identification of the Florida Strategic Network and projects for fast-track status, development of recommendations for the 2020 Florida Statewide Intermodal Systems Plan, and establishment of a methodology to prioritize freight projects. To find out more about SITAC, visit

Baltimore, MD Freight Movement Task Force focuses on improving communications among public and private sector freight stakeholders; identifying short-term impediments to and recommending improvements for the efficient, effective, environmentally sensitive, and safe movement of freight; and providing input into the allocation of long-term transportation resources for freight. Some of its major accomplishments include the completion of a Truck Parking Study along the I-95 corridor in the Baltimore region, development of a new truck traffic-forecasting model, placement of new signage along major freight routes, and intersection improvements to help mitigate freight bottlenecks in the Baltimore region. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact

Jocelyn Jones

Tamiko Burnell

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June 2006

Office of Freight Management and Operations (HOFM)
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
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