Freight & Goods Movement

Ensuring solutions to freight-related problems are integrated into multimodal transportation systems of communities.

Per capita vehicle-miles of passenger travel have stabilized or declined over the past few years, but freight miles per capita continue to climb. Trends in consumption, internet purchasing, supply chains, and global distribution mean that ton-miles will continue to grow at twice the rate of US population growth. Increases in trucking, freight rail operations, and port activity will impact communities, strain the capacity of our highways, and increase energy use and emissions.

We continuously expand and evolve our specialized expertise in goods movement to meet the growing and changing demands of the field. Our experts have a combined total of over 100 years of experience in providing freight-related planning and engineering services to site developers, local communities, freight operators, and regional and state governments throughout the U.S.

Specialized Services

Statewide and regional multi-modal freight planning

Sustainability analyses, including energy and GHG emissions assessments

Community accommodations, including curbside management, first/last mile provisions, and truck route designation

Major generator studies for ports and terminals, consolidation and distribution centers, and intermodal facilities

Truck operations and safety studies including climbing and safety lanes, parking, weigh station operations, and collision analysis

Freight forecasting, including commodity based and tour based models

Site access and truck circulation planning, including detailed microsimulation models

Conceptual design of access improvements

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for commercial vehicles

Case Studies

We employ our “layered network” approach to ensure the solutions to freight-related problems are integrated into the multimodal transportation system of a given community. Our strengths lie in our unique abilities to combine our extensive expertise in freight planning with our intimate knowledge of the local communities in which we practice. We  provide our clients with solutions that strike the optimal balance between safety, accessibility, economic vitality, and quality of life.

Moab, Utah Bypass Study

We led a study for a US-191 bypass in Moab, Utah—a gateway community to Arches National Park that is experiencing tremendous growth in visitation. Moab’s Main Street is the only route for truck traffic and is also shared with tourists who walk, cycle, and drive. The large influx of traffic is creating a negative experience for visitors and residents—truck noise being the biggest issue. We used big data to determine the relative “market” of trucks that would likely use a bypass. We validated this with ground counts and built and applied a Dynamic Traffic Assignment model that estimates how much traffic would divert to a new bypass. We also calculated user cost savings of taking a bypass versus the congested route through town, specifically for interstate truck traffic. See the final report in this map storybook.


NCHRP 08-106 Metropolitan Freight Transportation

We’re part of a federal research team developing guidance for transportation practitioners to address urban freight problems around (1) critical factors impacting the implementation of effective approaches to improve metropolitan freight transportation, (2) barriers to the implementation of effective approaches, and (3) strategies, processes, and relationships which could accelerate the adoption of effective practices and technologies. As a result, we built a sketch-planning tool called the Strategy Implementation Assessment Tool. It compares composite scores of selected urban freight transportation strategies to help practitioners identify the most promising strategies based on what stakeholders feel is most important. 

California Statewide Freight Forecasting Model

We developed the California Statewide Freight Forecasting Model on behalf of Caltrans. The model allows the State to test multimodal goods movement scenarios for 2040. We developed an easy-to-use interface to help users define inputs and visual output reports, including maps and charts. We’re also preparing instructions on different aspects of the model applications, especially scenario development. The goal is to make this complex model easy to understand and set up the required inputs for a scenario, run the model, and evaluate the results.

Port of Seattle/Tacoma

We have supported the Port of Seattle/Tacoma for the last decade with a variety of studies, plans, and recommendations. Efforts included the Land Use and Transportation Plan, ITS Strategic Plan, Fire Department Emergency Access Plan, Tideflats Area Transportation Study, Environmental Impact Statement for Expedia’s proposed Major Phased Development, Northwest Seaport Alliance travel demand model updates, Port of Seattle redevelopment of the Uplands area of Terminal 91, Port of Tacoma Road Interchange with I-5, and Port of Tacoma and the Northwest Seaport Alliance on-call planning services related to cargo facility issues.

California Freight Mobility Plan 2019

We are assisting Caltrans to develop the 2019 California Freight Mobility Plan which will create a more powerful and effective instrument to enhance freight mobility. The 2016 California Sustainable Freight Action Plan brought sustainability to freight planning, and the upcoming Freight Investment Plan will address funding priorities in light of SB1. Together these three Plans will define the future of freight in California. Our approach is based on effective public relationships and targeted, productive industry involvement to merge public and private visions and define implementable action steps for both. We’re working closely with the Caltrans Office of Freight Planning, California Freight Advisory Committee, and California Transportation Commission.


Research & Insights

Machine Learning and Big Data Poster

TRB 2019 Innovation in Freight Data Workshop

On-Demand Goods Delivery Presentation

TRB 2019 Innovation in Freight Data Workshop

Metropolitan Freight Transportation Video

National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)