Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Key Freight Transportation Challenges

Key Freight Transportation Challenges

  • Congestion
  • Operations
  • Planning
  • Finance
  • Safety
  • National Security
  • Environment
  • Professional Capacity

The volume of freight moved on the U.S. transportation system has grown dramatically over the past few decades and is projected to nearly double by 2020. As demand for freight service grows, concerns have intensified about capacity shortfalls, congestion, safety, and the environment. Likewise, the events of September 11 have heightened concerns about the vulnerability of the freight transportation system to terrorist attacks. Consequently, understanding and improving freight flows are becoming higher priority issues among decisionmakers at all levels of government and in the private sector. FAF, a comprehensive national database of county-to-county freight flows, captures these flows, which will help decisionmakers identify areas in need of capacity improvements and highlight regions with mismatched freight demand and system capacity.

As an extension of FAF and in cooperation with its public and private sector partners, FHWA has identified several key issues facing the freight transportation industry. Many of them are interrelated. These key issues include: 1) congestion and expanding capacity, 2) improving systems operations, 3) planning and financing freight projects, 4) the safety and environmental effects of freight transport, 5) national security, and 6) building professional capacity in the freight sector.

Figure 5. Freight Activity: 1998, 2010, and 2020
Figure 5. Freight Activity: 1998, 2010, and 2020
View data for figure 5 [HTML, Excel 16KB]

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