Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

FHWA Freight and Land Use Handbook

Appendix A Freight and Land Use Glossary

Access Management. A set of techniques that state and local governments can use to control access to highways, major arterials, and other roadways. The benefits of access management include improved movement of traffic, reduced crashes, and fewer vehicle conflicts.

Air Quality. Refers to the measure of air pollutants (including greenhouse gases and particulate matter) present in a given area. Poor air quality can have detrimental impacts to the environment and human health.

Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic (AADTT). The total volume of truck traffic on a highway segment for one year, divided by the number of days in the year.

Backhaul. The process of a transportation vehicle (typically a truck) returning from the original destination point to the point of origin. A backhaul can be with a full or partially loaded trailer.

Bottleneck. A section of a highway or rail network that experiences operational problems such as congestion. Bottlenecks may result from factors such as reduced roadway width or steep freeway grades that can slow trucks.

Boxcar. An enclosed railcar, typically 40 or more feet long, used for packaged freight and some bulk commodities.

Breakbulk Cargo. Cargo of nonuniform sizes, often transported on pallets, sacks, drums, or bags. These cargoes require labor-intensive loading and unloading processes. Examples of breakbulk cargo include coffee beans, logs, or pulp.

Brownfield. Real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off green spaces and working lands.

Bulk Cargo. Cargo that is unbound as loaded; it is without count in a loose unpackaged form. Examples of bulk cargo include coal, grain, and petroleum products.

Capacity. The physical facilities, personnel and process available to meet the product of service needs of the customers. Capacity generally refers to the maximum output or producing ability of a machine, a person, a process, a factory, a product, or a service. In regards to the transportation system, this term references the ability of the transportation infrastructure to accommodate traffic flow.

Cargo Ramp. A dedicated load/unload facility for cargo aircraft.

Carrier. A firm which transports goods or people via land, sea, or air.

Chassis. A trailer-type device with wheels constructed to accommodate containers, which are lifted on and off.

Class I Railroad. Railroad with annual operating revenue of at least $272.0 million (2002).

Climate Change. Any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from:

  • Natural factors, such as changes in the sun’s intensity or slow changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun;
  • Natural processes within the climate system (e.g., changes in ocean circulation); and
  • Human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition (e.g., through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g., deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.).

Comprehensive Planning. A process through which a community’s or region’s long-term community development goals and policies relating to a full array of topics such as transportation, land use, utilities, cultural institutions, and housing, are determined.

Commodity. An item that is traded in commerce. The term usually implies an undifferentiated product competing primarily on price and availability.

Consignee. The party who is to receive a freight shipment, as specified on a bill of lading.

Container. A large, standard-sized metal box into which cargo is packed for shipment; containers are designed to be moved with common handling equipment, functioning as the transfer unit between modes rather than the cargo itself.

Containerized Cargo. Cargo that is transported in containers that can be transferred easily from one transportation mode to another.

Container on Flat Car (COFC). A method of transporting goods by rail, which accommodates international shipping containers on top of a flat railcar.

Context-Sensitive Solutions. A collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders to develop a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic, and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility. CSS is an approach that considers the total context within which a transportation improvement project will exist.

Distribution Center (DC). The warehouse facility which holds inventory from manufacturing pending distribution to the appropriate stores.

Dock. A space used or receiving merchandise at a freight terminal.

Double-Stack. Railcar movement of containers stacked two high.

Drayage. Transporting of rail or ocean freight by truck to an intermediate or final destination; typically a charge for pickup/delivery of goods moving short distances (e.g., from marine terminal to warehouse).

Drop. A situation in which an equipment operator deposits a trailer or boxcar at a facility at which it is to be loaded or unloaded.

Encroachment. For the purpose of this handbook, “encroachment” refers to the development of incompatible land uses such as residential areas, parks, and schools in close proximity to existing industrial and freight-generating land uses. Encroachment presents land use conflicts and can exacerbate the impacts of freight on a community’s environment and quality of life.

Freight as a Good Neighbor. Refers to a wide range of site selection, site and building design, and operating strategies that limit the negative impacts (such as noise, light, emissions, etc.) on nearby communities.

Freight Exclusive Facilities. Transportation facilities, such as truck-only lanes, that accommodate freight traffic at the exclusion of passenger traffic.

Freight Forwarder. A person whose business is to act as an agent on behalf of a shipper. A freight forwarder frequently consolidates shipments from several shippers and coordinates booking reservations.

Freight Sprawl. A phenomenon in which freight-generating land uses are “pushed out” of urban areas and small towns due to forces such as rising land values, chronic congestion, and/or NIMBYism, and relocate to greenfields at the rural fringes of metropolitan areas.

Freight Village. A clustering of activities related to transport, logistics and the distribution of goods, for domestic and/or international are carried out by various operators.

Free Trade Zone (FTZ). An area or zone set aside at or near a port or airport, under the control of the U.S. Customs Service, for holding goods duty-free pending customs clearance.

Greenfield. Undeveloped rural land, usually natural or agricultural, which may be considered for new, urban development.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG). Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Some greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide occur naturally and are emitted to the atmosphere through natural processes and human activities. Other greenhouse gases (e.g., fluorinated gases) are created and emitted solely through human activities. The principal greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere because of human activities are:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of other chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). Carbon dioxide also is removed from the atmosphere (or “sequestered”) when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle.
  • Methane (CH4): Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O): Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.
  • Fluorinated Gases: Hydroflourocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes. Fluorinated gases are sometimes used as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances (i.e., CFCs, HCFCs, and halons). These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases (“High GWP gases”).

Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The combined total weight of a vehicle and its freight.

Hazardous Material. A substance or material which the Department of Transportation has determined to be capable of posing a risk to health, safety, and property when stored or transported in commerce.

Hours of Service (HOS). A ruling that stipulates the amount of time a driver is allotted to work enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration.

Industrial Preservation. A strategy or program of strategies to support and maintain the viability of existing industrial land and facilities, particularly in urban areas and small towns. Industrial preservation can be an objective within a larger smart growth or jobs preservation program.

Industrial Real Estate. Land and facilities used for the production, modification, storage, and distribution of goods. Examples of industrial real estate include manufacturing plants, warehousing, and distribution centers.

Intermodal Transportation. Transporting freight by using two or more transportation modes such as by truck and rail or truck and oceangoing vessel. For example, a shipment moved over 1,000 miles could travel by truck for one portion of the trip, and then transfer to rail at a designated terminal.

Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF). A location at which intermodal containers are transferred from one mode to another. A yard at a seaport, at which containers are transferred from rail to oceangoing ship or vice-versa is an example.

Intermodal Terminal. A location where links between different transportation modes and networks connect.

Just-in-Time (JIT). An inventory control system that controls material flow into assembly and manufacturing plants by coordinating demand and supply to the point where desired materials arrive just in time for use. An inventory reduction strategy that feed production lines with products delivered “just-in-time.”

Level of Service (LOS). A qualitative assessment of a road’s operating conditions. For local government comprehensive planning purposes, level of service means an indicator of the extent or degree of service provided by, or proposed to be provided by, a facility based on and related to the operational characteristics of the facility. Level of service indicates the capacity per unit of demand for each public facility.

Logistics. All activities involved in the management of product movement; delivering the right product from the right origin to the right destination, with the right quality and quantity, at the right schedule and price.

Logistics Supportive Design Guidelines. Site design guidelines, which can be built into an agency’s site design and development review process, accounting for the physical and operational needs of freight, including loading zones, street geometry, truck routes, and access points, etc.

Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). A Federally funded and mandated organization, composed of representatives from local government and transportation authorities, charged with establishing transportation policy and decision-making for a metropolitan area.

Model Zoning Regulations. A tool through which an MPO or a state agency can provide technical assistance to local jurisdictions, using sample regulatory language and examples, to develop zoning requirements aimed at achieving community development goals.

Node. A fixed point in a firm’s logistics system where goods come to rest; includes plants, warehouses, supply sources, and markets.

Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY). Refers to opposition, among community residents or other stakeholders, to development within their communities that may adversely impact the quality of life or environment. NIMBY sentiments may serve as a warning that impacts are not properly addressed in the zoning, planning, or project development processes.

Off-Peak Delivery. A strategy to incentivize or otherwise encourage the delivery of goods at times other than peak traffic periods.

Post-Panamax. Refers to ships that are too large to fit in the Panama Canal, such as supertankers and the largest modern container ships.

Placard. A label required by the U.S. Department of Transportation that identifies a hazardous material shipment and the hazards present.

Piggyback. A rail/truck service in which a shipper loads a highway trailer, and a carrier drives it to a rail terminal and loads it on a flatcar; the railroad moves the trailer-on-flatcar combination to the destination terminal, where the carrier offloads the trailer and delivers it to the consignee.

Pool/Drop Trailers. Trailer that are staged at a facility for preloading purposes.

Port Authority. State or local government that owns, operates, or otherwise provides wharf, dock, and other terminal investments at ports.

Private Carrier. A carrier that provides transportation service to the firm that owns or leases the vehicles and does not charge a fee.

Preferential Zoning. Zoning regulations encouraging development that meets established planning goals. For instance, if regional stakeholders have determined that the provision/retention of freight-dependent land uses is an important goal, the planning authority can establish special zoning designations based on existing land use patterns and then offer rewards to developers who include desired freight amenities in their plans.

Quiet Zones. Designated areas in which trains are not required to sound their whistles while approaching grade crossings. Quiet zones are intended to reduce the noise impacts of rail operations, but require the installation of advance warning systems and gates, and possibly additional safety equipment depending upon location-specific conditions.

Regional Railroad. Railroad-defined as line-haul railroad operating at least 350 miles of track and/or earns revenue between $40 million and $272 million (2002).

Regional Visioning. An exercise through which an MPO or other regional planning agency establishes a “vision” scenario representing desired future growth patterns.

Reliability. Refers to the degree of certainty and predictability in travel times on the transportation system. Reliable transportation systems offer some assurance of attaining a given destination within a reasonable range of an expected time. An unreliable transportation system is subject to unexpected delays, increasing costs for system users.

Reverse Logistics. A specialized segment of logistics focusing on the movement and management of products and resources after the sale and after delivery to the customer. Includes product returns and repair for credit.

Receiving. The function encompassing the physical receipt of material, the inspection of the shipment for conformance with the purchase order (quantity and damage), the identification and delivery to destination, and the preparation of receiving reports.

Shipper. Party that tenders goods for transportation.

Short-line Railroad. Freight railroads which are not Class I or Regional Railroads, that operate less than 350 miles of track and earn less than $40 million.

Short Sea Shipping. Also known as coastal or coastwise shipping, describes marine shipping operations between ports along a single coast or involving a short sea crossing.

Site Plan Review. An exercise through which site plans for proposed developments are reviewed by zoning officials to ensure compliance with zoning regulations and applicable comprehensive, land use or transportation plans.

Stakeholders. Public-sector agencies, community groups, and private sector businesses which have a direct role in, or are impacted by, transportation and land use planning and decision-making processes.

Stakeholder Committee. A forum in which stakeholders are invited to participate in the transportation and land use planning and decision-making processes.

Strategic Highway Network (STRAHNET). A network of highways which are important to the United States’ strategic defense policy and which provide defense access, continuity, and emergency capabilities for defense purposes.

Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET). An interconnected and continuous rail line network consisting of over 36,000 miles of track serving over 140 defense installations.

Sustainability. An objective calling for policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Switching and Terminal Railroad. Railroad that provides pick-up and delivery services to line-haul carriers.

Supply Chain. Starting with unprocessed raw materials and ending with final customer using the finished goods.

Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Provider. A specialist in logistics who may provide a variety of transportation, warehousing, and logistics-related services to buyers or sellers. These tasks were previously performed in-house by the customer.

Trailer on Flatcar (TOFC). Transport of trailers with their loads on specially designed rail cars.

Transloading. Transferring bulk shipments from the vehicle/container of one mode to that of another at a terminal interchange point.

Transportation Planning Process. The procedure through which an MPO or state identifies transportation needs, analyzes alternatives, develops projects, and mitigates environmental impacts, while engaging stakeholders.

Truck Climbing Lane. An highway lane provided where steep grades exist, allowing slower-moving vehicles such as trucks to travel with limited disruption to the flow of other traffic.

Truck-Only Toll (TOT) Lanes. On an expressway, a separated set of lanes dedicated to trucks, which allows trucks to avoid congestion in general purpose lanes during peak-periods. Use of the TOT lanes is voluntary, and a toll is charged to users.

Truck Parking. Facilities either on-highway (such as state-operated rest areas and service-plazas) or off-highway (private truck stops), which provide spaces for trucks to park and for drivers to rest.

Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU). The 8-foot by 8-foot by 20-foot intermodal container is used as a basic measure in many statistics and is the standard measure used for containerized cargo.

Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT). A unit to measure vehicle travel made by a private vehicle, such as an automobile, van, pickup truck, or motorcycle.

Warehouse. Storage place for products. Principal warehouse activities include receipt of product, storage, shipment, and order picking.

Zoning. Regulations established by local governments which designate “zones” and define the allowable land uses, density, ground cover, building types, and dimensions within them.


This glossary was assembled from a number of sources, including:

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