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Freight Analysis Network Development

The objective of this research effort was to develop the capability and tools to perform freight analysis and forecasting within a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. The first step in creating this analysis capability was to inventory of existing intermodal freight transportation operations across the U.S. This inventory was conducted using existing GIS layers (networks, terminals and transfer facilities), freight commodity flows and identification of the institutional players involved in intermodal freight movements (shippers, carriers and regulators). The inventory was compiled via intermodal facility databases and verification using aerial photography.

Researchers succeeded in building a first generation GIS-based freight transportation network for the U.S. with modal transfer connections made at verified intermodal terminals. These connections were designed so that delays and throughput capacities are associated with the transfer facility and easily updated. The network will accept multiple origin-destination datasets and is built using the TransCAD transportation-GIS software platform.

Future work includes validation against actual freight activity within the region, development of analysis and reporting modules that allow for scenario development and “what if” analyses, combined with various means for displaying analysis results so as to be easy to understand by both freight managers, government officials and the public interest.

Supplemental Notes: This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program (University of Memphis, Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute).