Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Freight Intermodal Connectors Study

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United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590


April 2017

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

Historical Policy Context

Current National Highway System Freight Intermodal Connector System

Chapter 2. Trends Impacting Freight Intermodal Connectors

Freight Intermodal Terminals and Traffic Volumes

Emerging Truck-Truck Terminals and Traffic Volumes

Chapter 3. Connector Characteristics, Use, Condition, and Performance

General Characteristics of Freight Intermodal Connectors

Freight Intermodal Connector Truck Volumes

Pavement Condition of Freight Intermodal Connectors

Speeds on Freight Intermodal Connectors

Freight Intermodal Connector Performance Measurement

Chapter 4. Case Studies


Connector Characteristics

Connector Truck Volumes

Connector Pavement Condition

Connector Truck Travel Speeds and Congestion

Governance and Stakeholder Coordination

Planning for Case Study Connector Level of Service

Future Conditions

Connector Improvement Projects

Identified Funding Programs for Case Study Connector Improvements

Chapter 5. Connector Performance Impacts on Goods Movement and Supply Chains

Impact of Pavement Maintenance Costs

Impact on Vehicle Operating Costs

Impact on Congestion and Congestion Costs

Impact of Connectors on Broader Supply Chains

Chapter 6. Summary of Key Findings and Options for Future Research

Key Findings on Designation of Freight Intermodal Connectors

Key Findings on Characteristics and Use of Freight Intermodal Connectors

Key Findings on Condition and Performance of Freight Intermodal Connectors

Key Findings on Data Availability for Freight Intermodal Connectors

Key Conclusions Related to Planning for Freight Intermodal Connectors

Key Findings on Costs to Improve Connectors and Funding for Improvements to Freight Intermodal Connectors

Options for Future Research for Freight Intermodal Connectors

Appendix. Funding Programs for Freight Intermodal Connectors

List of Figures

Figure 1. Graph. Containerized Traffic at U.S. Ports, 1980 to 2013—In Twenty Foot Equivalent Units.

Figure 2. Chart. U.S. Rail Intermodal Traffic, 1989 to 2013—Millions of Containers and Trailers.

Figure 3. Graph. Landed Weight for All-Cargo, Air Cargo Operations—In Thousands.

Figure 4. Graph. Liquid Pipeline Transportation in U.S.—2009 to 2013.

Figure 5. Graph. Intermodal Component of Federal Highway Administration Freight Efficiency Index.

Figure 6. Graph. Distribution of Intermodal Connector Annual Average Daily Traffic—2013.

Figure 7. Graph. Distribution of Intermodal Truck AADT—2013.

Figure 8. Map. Port of Savannah-to-Atlanta Truck Trip Components.

Figure 9. Map. Desire Lines for Port of Savannah Truck Trips.

Figure 10. Map. Destinations of Trucks Leaving BNSF Yard.

List of Tables

Table 1. Number of Freight Intermodal Connectors by Mode—2000 to 2014.

Table 2. Criteria for Adding to or Modifying the National Highway System (NHS) Intermodal Connector Subsystem.

Table 3. Summary of Impacts of Trends on Intermodal Connectors for Each Mode.

Table 4. U.S. Warehousing Employment—1998 to Present.

Table 5. Distribution of Segment Lengths for Freight Intermodal Connectors.

Table 6. Average Length of Connectors by Functional Classification.

Table 7. Number of Connectors by Owner and Functional System Code.

Table 8. International Roughness Index Categories.

Table 9. Average International Roughness Index Rating by Length of Connector.

Table 10. Average Speeds of Intermodal Connectors by Rural/Urban Designation (miles per hour).

Table 11. Average Speeds of Intermodal Connectors by Pavement Condition (miles per hour).

Table 12. Case Study Locations.

Table 13. Summary of Connector Traffic Volume Data.

Table 14. International Roughness Index Ranges and Categories.

Table 15. Comparison of Case Study Connectors and Other Roadways with Same Roadway Functional Classification—2013.

Table 16. Connector Pavement Rating by Mode—2013.

Table 17. Percent of Case Study Connectors with Congestion by Mode.

Table 18. Average Truck Speeds by Facility Type and Time Period—April 2014.

Table 19. Planned Improvements for Intermodal Connectors.

Table 20. Funding Sources for Select Freight Intermodal Connectors.

Table 21. Cost to Improve Connectors to Good Pavement Condition.

Table 22. Cost to Improve Connectors to Good Pavement Condition by Mode.

Table 23. Increase in Vehicle Operating Costs on Freight Intermodal Connectors.

Table 24. Annual Cost of Delay on Freight Intermodal Connectors.

Table 25. Annual Cost of Delay on Freight Intermodal Connectors by Mode.

Table 26. Atlanta to Savannah Travel Time.

Table 27. Examples of Successful Intermodal Connector Projects.

List of Abbreviations and Symbols

AADT—Annual Average Daily Traffic

AADTT—Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic

AASHTO—American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

BNSF—Burlington Northern and Santa Fe

CMAQ—Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program

CMP—Congestion Management Plan

DOT—Department of Transportation

EDA—Economic Development Administration

FAA—Federal Aviation Administration

FAST—Freight Action Strategy

FASTLANE—Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies

FDOT—Florida Department of Transportation

FHWA—Federal Highway Administration

GARVEE—Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles

GIS—Geographic Information Systems

HERS—Highway Economic Requirements System

HERS-ST—Highway Economic Requirement System—State Version

HPMS—Highway Performance Monitoring System

HSIP—Highway Safety Improvement Program

ICAT—Intermodal Connector Assessment Tool

IRI—International Roughness Index

LRTP—Long-range Transportation Plan

MAP-21—Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

MPO—Metropolitan Planning Organization

NCHRP—National Cooperative Highway Research Program

NHFN—National Highway Freight Network

NHFP—National Highway Freight Program

NHPP—National Highway Performance Program

NHS—National Highway System

NMFN—National Multimodal Freight Network

NPMRDS—National Performance Monitoring Research Data Set

SIS—Statewide Intermodal System

STBG—Surface Transportation Block Grant Program

STIP—Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs

TEA-21—Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century

TEU—Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit

TIFIA—Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act

TIP—Transportation Improvement Program

VMT—Vehicle Miles Traveled

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