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TERI Database

Research Idea Details




Analysis of Environmental and Energy Benefits of Reduction of Rail and Highway Bottlenecks in the Northeast

Focus Area

Environmental Considerations in Planning






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Objective: Analyze environmental and energy benefits of increased efficiency in the Northeast Corridor as a result of improved freight operations. Background: A great deal of effort and attention is being paid by federal, state and local jurisdictions to the benefits of increasing freight mobility. However, much of the environmental, energy and public health impacts associated with the existing freight corridor and the benefits of improving freight infrastructure projects have not been systematically captured and analyzed. The Transportation and Climate Initiative and the I-95 Corridor Coalition will develop the data around the environmental and energy impacts from increased efficiency in the Corridor as a result of improved freight operations. Likewise, TCI will review and recommend areas of needed improvement for congestion management, coordination of traffic flow, elimination of bottlenecks on both roadway and rail freight networks. Among some of the technical work, TCI will: o Create an emission workbook for freight implementation, consisting of metrics for gauging CO2, NOx, etc. per passenger mile, per ton mile, cost, time for comparison purposes. o Develop an emissions inventory for goods movement along the corridor and its alternatives based on origin-destination data, freight volumes, and modes of transport; and evaluate the energy use, time-of-delivery, and emissions impacts associated with relieving congestion on key corridors and intermodal facilities and ports. o Analyze the potential health impacts from goods movement along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic portions of the I-95 Corridor by quantifying the geospatial emissions of key pollutants along the corridor(s), modeling the fate and transport of these emissions, and evaluating the increased health risks due to exposed populations. o Characterize the emission benefits and inventory of equipment that freight companies, ports, and airports could use to reduce emissions. o Create an outreach document for shippers showing how they can benefit (emissions, costs) from changes; produce a similar outreach document for policymakers discussing policy options for reducing energy use and emissions in the freight sector. o Develop information and recommendations for transportation officials to make necessary investments to lower congestion and realize the benefits derived from the study. o Create geospatial tools for public and private transportation stakeholders and travelers on the Corridor to access data to improve travel time and costs. This research is the second phase of data analysis performed by TCI in conjunction with Dr. James Winebrake of Rochester Institute of Technology, who previously analyzed freight flows to and from the Northeast by mode, traffic flow, volume and value. Dr. Winebrake is prepared to serve as Principal Investigator on the project, with the Northeast states involved in TCI and the I-95 Corridor Coalition in support. Individual states have identified significant bottlenecks throughout their states and the I-95 Corridor Coalition has begun updating information on previous freight inventory reports, such as the Mid-Atlantic Rail and Highway Operations Reports. This study will result in new research with information directly impacting investment decisions in individual states. The I-95 Corridor Coalition and TCI will be partnering with experts from the University of Maryland, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Delaware to develop the emissions and energy inventories, develop geo-spatial access tools and develop recommendations for investments in the Corridor. Cost: Freight Environmental Performance Metrics and Integration $300,000 Geospatial Information Technology $100,000 Total $400,000 About TCI: The Transportation and Climate Initiative, created in 2009, is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions that seeks to develop the clean energy economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. TCI brings transportation, environmental and energy-based expertise from among states in the region, with the ability to share best practices, implement programs and open opportunities within the states to ensure policies are enacted. The results derived from studies within the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states will have benefits for future expanded practices and initiatives throughout region.

Urgency and Payoff

Congestion is a significant challenge for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, which includes three of the five most congested metropolitan areas in the United States. The Corridor encompasses the densest region in the United States, with over 50 million residents, a $2.6 trillion economy producing 20 percent of the national gross domestic product. It is anticipated that the population of the region will grow by 30 percent through 2050, adding 15 million people to an already dense corridor. As the economy recovers from its recent recession and given the potential growth in the Corridor, congestion will only get worse as freight flows and passenger vehicles miles traveled in the region result from this growth. Congestion has substantial private, social, and budgetary costs. Most directly, congestion causes delivery delays and wasted staff time, fuel, and money for carriers. For receivers of time-sensitive deliveries, unpredictable delivery times create substantial costs. Delays can be particularly problematic for just-in-time manufacturing facilities, where trucks serve a mobile warehouse function, and late deliveries can shut down entire production lines. The costs associated with these delays are usually passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, meaning that the costs of congestion extend beyond the region directly affected. Nationwide, congestion wasted 5.5 billion hours of time (equivalent to the time businesses and individuals spend a year filing their taxes), 2.9 billion gallons of fuel (enough to fill four New Orleans Superdomes), $121 billion of delay and fuel cost (the negative effect of uncertain or longer delivery times, missed meetings, business relocation and other congestion-related effects are not included), 56 billion pounds of additional carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere during urban congested conditions. 22% ($27 billion) of the delay cost was the effect of congestion on truck operations; this does not include any value for the goods being transported in the trucks. The cost to the average commuter due to congestion was $818 in 2011 compared to an inflation-adjusted $342 in 1982. In addition to these direct private costs, congestion leads to increased emissions of conventional pollutants like NOx, with attendant public health consequences, and of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Reducing congestion-related vehicle emissions of conventional pollutants would reduce the need to impose costly regulatory measures to reduce emissions from other sectors. Reduced incidence of respiratory and other health problems will also put downward pressure on medical costs and benefit worker productivity and public welfare. Targeted infrastructure investments to ameliorate bottlenecks can provide a very high return on investment, particularly when indirect benefits are taken into account.

Suggested By

J. Brett Taylor, Ed.D. Delaware Department of Transportation 302-760-2492

Posting Date

June 11, 2014

New - items posted in the last 7 days (30 days for TERI)

AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)
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