Author: Jessica Hill, Senior Planner-Sustainability, Centralina Council of Governments
A safe, efficient, and reliable freight transportation network is absolutely critical to the greater Charlotte region’s economy. The region’s freight transportation network is under pressure to provide safe, efficient, reliable and sustainable mobility with the reality of additional vehicles, aging and under-sized infrastructure, changing vehicle technologies and connectivity gaps. In December 2016, the region completed its first Freight Mobility Plan which identified needed infrastructure, policies, and programs to meet the region’s future freight mobility needs. The region took a three-prong approach to planning for freight mobility – transportation planning, land use planning, and economic development. By examining freight mobility not just from the movement of freight (transportation), but also from the creation of freight (land use) and the region’s high growth industries (economic development) we have a more comprehensive and robust planning document.
Since the plan’s completion, CCOG has led our freight project partners to initiate implementation activities. Beginning in January 2017, Centralina COG started to bring the freight mobility plan to life through various activities, including:
- Lead an Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)/ Traffic Incident Management (TIMS) Champion Group to develop recommendations for the region,
- Developed a public awareness video on the value of freight which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dITD-nNeJwU&t=9s,
- Presented to program and policy boards for five transportation planning organizations,
- Held regional meetings to inform land-use and economic development officials about how they can use the plan,
- Held a freight summit to celebrate the completion of the plan and generate momentum for implementation activities, and
- Continuing to convene the Freight Advisory Committee comprised of private sector freight related industry representatives.
This post-plan work was possible with funding support from NCDOT.
Activities in early 2017 represent a landmark achievement in early plan implementation and developing the systems needed for future project application. One of the major achievements is bringing the private sector into the freight discussion as exemplified through the Freight Advisory Committee. Members of the Freight Advisory Committee have been strong advocates and have aided in the development of the public awareness campaign and freight video, and co-presenting to the transportation planning organization policy boards, providing their unique perspective on the economy in motion.
Looking beyond 2017 to determine and identify methods to continue the freight mobility discussion and make improvements in the region.
A proposed two-year action plan to accelerate the regional freight initiative and maintain and grow the important relationships developed during the plan include:
- Promoting and educating the region’s residents about the importance of freight mobility and its impact on our quality of life, jobs, and economic growth using the Freight Mobility PSA Film – Moving Goods that Move the Region.
- Freight Advisory Committee continues to meet biannually. Schedule based on best windows for MPO-private sector involvement and interaction to fulfill MPO stakeholder needs.
- Charlotte Regional Alliance for Transportation (CRAFT) serves as the Freight “tech team” to determine how to improve communication and coordination between the three pillars of land use, transportation, and economic development, with a goal of on-the-ground recommendations/solutions.
- Developing a bi-state, regional Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and Traffic Incident Management (TIM) strategic plan in coordination with NC and SC DOTs.
- FHWA peer review (part two) on freight implementation, learning from national leaders and regions that are a few years ahead of ours. Where and how have private sector interests built freight related projects in the name of better business (freight optimization)?
Improving the safety, efficiency and reliability of the freight transportation network is essential for the greater Charlotte region. Our industries depend on the transportation network to move the goods they produce, while also providing mobility for employees who are responsible for the production and transfer of those goods. When the transportation network is functioning well, people, goods, and economies are connected, but when the transportation network isn’t functioning well, our residents, industries, and economy suffer. Moving from planning into action has the potential to significantly improve the region’s freight mobility.
Link to the Greater Charlotte Regional Freight Mobility Plan: http://www.centralina.org/regional-planning/transportation/freight/
For more information contact Jessica Hill, Senior Planner and Freight Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (704) 348-2731.