Examination of the Environmental and Energy Benefits Derived from Elimination of Transportation Bottlenecks in the Northeast Region

Focus Area



Air Quality






Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

Develop analytical tools and prepare
recommendations for highway and rail infrastructure investments that will
alleviate bottlenecks and produce environmental, energy and public health


Our proposed collaborative Green Corridor
program effort addresses two issues:

•             Inventory
Bottlenecks on the Transportation Infrastructure:  An inventory of highway and rail bottlenecks
within the infrastructure will be developed for each of the participating
Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions. 
The Coalition and TCI will work with respective state freight and rail
planning offices to take advantage of already developed data sources as the
foundation of the geo-spatial needs of the study and identify potential targets
for infrastructure investment once benefits are identified.  The work will also take into consideration
the possibility of portability to other regions of the country.


•             Quantification
of Environmental and Energy Costs for Freight: 
Federal, state and local jurisdictions are paying a great deal of effort
and attention to the benefits of increasing freight mobility.  However, much of the environmental, energy
and public health benefits associated with improving freight infrastructure has
not been systematically captured and analyzed. 
Under this effort, the Coalition and TCI will develop the data around
the environmental and energy benefits resulting from increased efficiency due
to improved freight operations.  We will
also review and recommend areas of needed improvement for congestion
management, coordination of traffic flow and elimination of bottlenecks on both
roadway and rail freight networks.   The
technical work will consist of:

o             Creating
an emission workbook for freight implementation, consisting of metrics for
gauging CO2, NOx, etc. per passenger mile, per ton mile, cost and time for
comparison purposes

o             Developing
geospatial diagrams/maps depicting the movement of goods from regional ports to
other states and regions with alternatives for expanding movement through a
wider regional corridor.

o             Developing
an emissions inventory for goods movement along the corridor and its
alternatives based on origin-destination data, freight volumes, and modes of
transport; and evaluating the energy use, time-of-delivery, and emissions
impacts associated with relieving congestion on key corridors and intermodal
facilities and ports.

o             Analyzing
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             Characterizing
the emission benefits and inventory of equipment that freight companies, ports,
and airports could use to reduce emissions.

o             Developing
information and recommendations for transportation officials to make necessary
investments to lower congestion and realize the benefits derived from the

o             Creating
geospatial tools for public and private transportation stakeholders and
travelers to access data to improve travel time and costs. 


The I-95 Coalition and TCI will partner 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 investment recommendations.   

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 (according to a new report
from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Washington, D.C., New York
City, and Boston, are the first, fourth, and fifth most congested metropolitan
areas in the United States).  In addition
to the direct costs associated with delays in the movement of freight and
passengers, 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

Brett Taylor Delaware Department of Transportation 302-760-2492

[email protected]