Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Freight Transportation Gets the Attention it Deserves

Apr 18, 2011

Karin Foster Transportation Planner

Metropolitan Washington like any major metro area depends upon the continuous and efficient movement of goods. Our grocery stores offices schools and hospitals are all supplied by daily freight deliveries while many of our major companies use freight transportation to get their products to customers. As the region’s economy grows so too does the demand for more and more goods. Freight transportation is increasingly relied upon to move these goods.

Freight transportation involves four modes: rail truck air and maritime. Finding the right balance between these modes can help reduce the pollution impacts of freight lessen the region’s traffic congestion and provide for continued economic growth.

In 2008 the Transportation Planning Board our region’s metropolitan planning organization (MPO) launched a subcommittee for freight which provides a venue to cooperatively address regional freight issues. In July 2010 the TPB passed the first-ever National Capital Region Freight Plan which examines freight movement in the region provides analysis of current and forecast freight conditions and examines land use environmental and security concerns related to freight transportation in metro Washington.

Since then the group has worked to develop a list of 10 priority freight transportation projects identifying short- and long-term projects for both the railroad and highway modes of freight transport. The projects include the critical CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel project the Norfolk Southern B-Line Expansion commercial loading zones in the District of Columbia I-70 Phase 4 in Maryland and the I-66 and I-495 access improvements in Virginia. The projects illustrate the breadth of needed freight improvements.

Freight planning is becoming a larger focus for the TPB and given its impact on all of our daily lives it should be a larger focus for other elected officials business leaders and the general public. The TPB is providing a first step by hosting a Regional Freight Forum on April 27 2011 to bring greater attention to freight issues in metro Washington. John D. Porcari Deputy Secretary of Transportation will make opening remarks and Mortimer Downey Chairman of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors will be the luncheon speaker. The Forum will be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The event is free but registration is required.

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