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National Scan of Freight Capacity, Safety and Security Issues (phases I and II)

This project involved a literature review and synthesis of safety, security and efficiency issues related to the freight infrastructure (facilities and services) in the U.S. The overarching objective of this effort was to identify critical problems, opportunities and lessons learned that apply directly to the CIFTS region.

Safety challenges were identified on the basis of impacts to human health and the environment. Security considerations focused on events that could cause a disruption or compromise of information, people, goods or infrastructure.  Efficiency concerns were identified on the basis of the industry’s ability to meet customer demand with available supply in a timely, reliable and economic manner.

The results of the synthesis revealed nine critical issues that could profoundly influence the present and future success of the freight transportation industry in the Southeast region.  It is hoped that by directing attention to those circumstances that warrant priority consideration, government officials, business leaders and other interested parties can work together to improve planning, design and operation of the freight transportation system to meet these challenges. This will require strategies that address both short-term and long-term considerations, leveraging promising technologies.   Most importantly, freight transportation industry stakeholders must reach consensus on a set of goals and objectives that will allow them to work together with a common purpose.

Climate change was subsequently selected as an issue that requires a greater understanding of its anticipated effects and potential strategies to mitigate these effects.  Upon further study, it was recommended that CIFTS organize and convene a summit in which invited participants would discuss the nature of the problem, identify potential strategies for rectifying the problem, and develop a path forward in order to address this problem in a practical and achievable manner.  A prospectus was prepared outlining how this forum could be organized in order to achieve the desired results.  This was subsequently used as a discussion document to enlist the support of freight transportation stakeholders.  Consequently, the early stage planning has been completed such that a CIFTS-sponsored summit on the effects of climate change on freight infrastructure and operations can be held in the near future.

The final report resulting from this research is available here. Please contact Mark Abkowitz for more information on this project.

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