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167868-1 Report Abstract

Enhanced Freight Sketch Planning Tool for Assessing Multimodal Investment Strategies

Jordan Botticello and C. Michael Walton, University of Texas at Austin, September 2006, 91 pp. (167868-1)

In recent years, there have been dramatic changes in the volume and movement of freight within the US and internationally.  Traditional distribution systems have been replaced by just-in-time driven processes and freight transportation patterns have become much more complex.  Innovations in containerization as well as changes in trade geography have directly influenced international trade movements.  NAFTA and the deregulation of rail, trucking and air in the latter part of the twentieth century also had a large impact on freight movement.  Given these changes, it has become increasingly necessary for transportation planners to look to modes other than traditional highways as solutions for congestion and other transportation problems.  However, public agencies have been challenged to demonstrate and contrast the benefits of these modal investments with traditional highway spending.

During the first phase of the research a spreadsheet based tool, entitled Multimodal Analysis Freight Tool (MAFT) was developed to quantify and evaluate the benefits associated with multimodal freight investments.  However, the tool needed to be further developed to accurately account for the rail and barge components and data regarding these modes was not readily available during the first phase of the project.  This study addresses that issue as well as develops and analyzes a case study involving the rail mode and one involving the barge mode using MAFT.  Additionally, given the uncertainty of assumptions made in the tool, a sensitivity analysis to determine the critical input values is needed.   A critical examination of the output from several case studies was studied to determine the overall effect of these factors on the results. An assessment of the oversimplifications in the tool, due to its sketch planning nature, was undertaken and possible solutions identified.

Keywords: Multimodal Freight Analysis Tool, MAFT, Freight, Multimodal, Rail

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 799 KB)