Reducing GHG Emissions from Freight Movements Through Comprehensive Port/Gateway Planning

Focus Area

Climate Change


Air Quality, Environmental Process







Research Idea Scope

There are several steps in the freight processing system, from warehousing, manufacture, and distribution that generate trips, usually by truck, between these stages. Often import material is in a disaggregated state when it lands in the US. The freight is then taken to a facility for warehousing or manufacture, where the product will then often move to a distribution facility for a final trip to a store or to another warehousing facility as back stock. Ports and other gateway areas are usually not planned effectively to accept and accommodate the needs of freight in these many steps in product transfers. This inefficiency leads to many trips in, through, and around the major metropolitan areas. In order to reduce the contribution of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the freight sector, there is a need to effectively plan for both the land side needs for off terminal freight movement and for the aggregation and distribution needs of products in conjunction with transportation planning and investment decisions. The research should evaluate metropolitan planning organizations (MPO’s) and States efforts to address these needs, by working with both inland and coastal ports and other major gateways to create comprehensive port/gateway plans that are integrated into LRTPs, and how those needs have been understood and accounted for in development and transportation planning and operations. The research will evaluate and identify the data gaps and barriers to integrating port gateway plans into LRTPs, and/or their full implementation.
Identify best practices to accommodate land side freight movements and system efficiencies to achieve GHG emission reductions. 
Related Work
The proposed research would complement and build on work from the freight logistics, planning and environmental fields, including:
·      NCFRP 15: Understanding Urban Goods Movement
·      NCFRP 16 Representing Freight in Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Models
·      NCHRP 25 Freight Trip Generation and Land Use
·      NCFRP 27 Promoting Environmental Goals in Freight Transportation through Industry Benchmarking.
Urgency/PriorityThis is an under-examined topic and the issue has significant implications for the management of freight and reducing GHG emissions.

Urgency and Payoff

Findings will serve as a guide for best practices in freight flow management and land use planning for freight services.
EffectivenessThis report has the potential to improve the way metropolitan areas conduct planning and decision making for freight and material flows in and around major gateways, resulting in more effective GHG reduction strategies.  Success will be achieved if state and local transportation and planning officials use the findings to better coordinate and cooperate with the private sector and industry on comprehensive port/gateway planning.

Suggested By

RNS. Sponsoring Committee: A0020T, Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy Source Info: Special Task Force on Climate Change and Energy January 2010 Workshop