Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Measuring the Impacts of Freight Transportation Improvements on the Economy and Competitiveness

Appendix A. Resources for Practitioners

The items listed below provide references that may be useful for practitioners who want to obtain an overview on the relationship between freight transportation and the economy.  The list includes reference materials that summarize the economic literature, as well as guidebooks that provide step-by-step instructions on how to conduct different types of BCA, economic impact assessments and other types of economic analyses.

Freight Transportation Improvements and the Economy. U.S. DOT,

Focusing on freight transportation, this report summarizes the results of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) work on the economic benefits of transportation improvements. In addition to this summary, two analytical reports are included as appendices: 1) Economic Effects of Transportation: The Freight Story; and 2) Transportation Infrastructure, Freight Services Sector and Economic Growth: A Synopsis. Three methods—macroeconomic and microeconomic research and general equilibrium approaches—have been employed to study the linkages between transportation and the economy. Each of these is discussed in this report.

NCFRP Report 12: Framework and Tools for Estimating Benefits of Specific Freight Network Investments. Prepared for the National Cooperative Freight Research Program. Prepared by Cambridge Systematics. 2011,

TRB's National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Report 12: Framework and Tools for Estimating Benefits of Specific Freight Network Investments provides a framework and tools designed to help estimate the private and public benefits of potential freight infrastructure investments.

The evaluation framework is intended to assist public planning and decision-making processes regarding freight; to supplement benefit/cost assessment with distributional impact measures; and to advance public-private cooperation.

The framework is capable of handling projects that span all of the different modes and able to assess benefits from a variety of project types, including those that are designed to improve freight operations, as well as those that would generate more capacity through infrastructure expansion.

Handbook: Assessing Local Economic Development Opportunities with ARC-LEAP, Appalachian Regional Commission Local Economic Assessment Package. Prepared by Economic Development Research Group, Inc., January 2004,
The ARC-LEAP model serves three related purposes, each aimed at helping practitioners identify target industries for economic development. The first is to provide a tool for local practitioners to assess current economic conditions and likely future trends. The second is to provide a diagnostic tool to aid practitioners in targeting industries that can provide the basis for economic development. The third is to provide an analysis tool for assessing the effects of policy (e.g., tax) changes and new investments (e.g., transportation improvements) on the attractiveness of an area for different industries.

NCHRP Report 456: Guidebook for Assessing the Social and Economic Effects of Transportation Projects. Prepared for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Prepared by David Forkenback and Glen Weisbrod. 2001

This report presents guidance for practitioners in assessing the social and economic implications of transportation projects for their surrounding communities. Presented in guidebook format, the report identifies current best methods, tools, and techniques, based on an extensive literature review and comprehensive survey of State departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations.

NCFRP Report 10: Performance Measures for Freight Transportation. Prepared for the National Cooperative Freight Research Program, Prepared by Gordon Proctor Associates, 2011,

TRB's National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) Report 10: Performance Measures for Freight Transportation explores a set of measures to gauge the performance of the freight transportation system.

The measures are presented in the form of a freight system report card, which reports information in three formats, each increasingly detailed, to serve the needs of a wide variety of users from decision makers at all levels to anyone interested in assessing the performance of the nation's freight transportation system.

Guide to Quantifying the Economic Impacts of Federal Investments in Large-Scale Freight Transportation Projects. Prepared for Office of the Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation, Prepared by Cambridge Systematics, Inc., Economic Development Research Group, Inc., Boston Logistics Group, Inc., August 2006,

The core of the economic analysis framework for evaluating large-scale freight projects is a Five-Step Analysis process:  1.) Identify the nature and transportation purpose of the project, 2.) Identify the nature of expected economic impacts, 3.) Apply transportation impact evaluation tools, 4.) Apply economic impact evaluation tools to assess the magnitude and nature of economic effects actually projected to occur for elements of the economy that are either directly or indirectly affected by freight system costs and performance, 5.) Apply decision support methods to identify the substantial positive and negative impacts of the project for the economy (at the local/state or national level).

The Economics of Transportation Systems: A Reference for Practitioners. Prepared for Texas DOT, Prepared by Center for Transportation Research. January 2013,

Provides an overview of economic analysis techniques for transportation practitioners.  It is designed for those who wish to acquire knowledge of the subject and may not have a background in economics.

NCHRP Report 463: Economic Implications of Congestion. Prepared for the National Cooperative Research Program, Prepared by Weisbrod, Glen; Vary, Don; Treyz, George. 2001,

This report focuses on the measurement of congestion impacts on transportation system performance and the measurement of business costs affected by congestion.  The report describes an analytic framework and sketch planning tool, the "Congestion Decision Support System" (CDSS), which was developed during the course of this project for analyzing the economic impacts of congestion on businesses.

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