Eight County Freight Plan Study
Below you can review the first working draft of the Paper 1 System Inventory and Paper 2 Commodity Flow Profile. Please send any comments or concerns to Chandra Ravada at CRavada@ecia.org using the comment record form below.
The Eight County Region (Study Area) is at the heart of major US manufacturing and agricultural activity, yet for the most part does not have direct access to the interstate system for distribution of goods regionally and nationally. This means that the US, State and county roadways, the railroads and the water ports in the Study Area are the life lines for commerce.
In order for the East Central Intergovernmental Association & Blackhawk Hills Regional Council (Project Team) to provide a freight transportation system that attracts new businesses and enables others to maintain and grow their presence in the Study Area, several key questions must be answered, including:
- • How are the Study Area’s key freight corridors used today? How might they be used in the future?
- • What is transported on the freight system today? How might that change in the future?
- • What are businesses/key industries freight system performance requirements? How does the existing system meet them?
- • Where are the Study Area’s key freight system bottlenecks? and,
- • How should these bottlenecks be addressed? Policies? Projects?
The Eight County Freight Plan will be developed to answer these questions, with the primary Plan objective of:
To develop a better understanding of the multimodal freight system in the tristate region and to use this information to better inform policy and programming decisions in the region.
Thus the central output of the study will be the identification of baseline freight movements across modes, the identification of the major freight transportation challenges including truck bottlenecks and how they may impact the performance of key regional economic sectors, and the formulation recommendations on freight policy and projects that will provide the greatest benefit to the region. This study will also provide the Project Team and their planning and economic development partners with a means of leveraging freight transportation data to help them make better, more informed investment decisions BEYOND this study.
The East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA) in partnership with Blackhawk Hills Regional Council (BHH) is working to complete a multimodal, intermodal freight plan for the eight county region that enhances the mobility of both people and goods while mitigating the negative impacts on mobility, safety, environment and quality of life.
The study will include development of a regional freight model, creation of a commodity flow database, and prioritization of future improvements. When complete, the study will provide key recommendations for existing and future roadways, rail, river, intermodal, and other freight facilities.
Steering Committee Meeting #2 - Developing a Robust Foundation for the Eight County Freight Plan
A solid baseline of information must be established prior to analyzing the Eight County Region’s multimodal freight system. This includes articulating what industries drive the Region’s economy and how those industries use transportation in their daily activities. It also includes articulating the array of infrastructure assets (including road, rail, water, and air modes) and multimodal facilities available for their use, and the unique and important roles each mode serves.
Steering Committee Meeting #2 focused on building awareness on the Region’s economic drivers and key infrastructure components. The Steering Committee was presented preliminary information and provided an opportunity to give feedback on its accuracy, and any elements that may be missing or need revision, prior to initiating freight system analysis.
Steering Committee Meeting #3 - Commodity Flows of the Eight County Region
At this Steering Committee Meeting the first glimpse of freight movements in the Eight County Region in terms of tonnage, value, mode, and both domestic and international trade was presented. These commodity flows will be used in the Eight County Freight Plan in several ways, including to better understand how the freight system is used today and could be used in the future, to help articulate multimodal freight system needs, and to identify and provide justification (by key industry) for potential system improvements (including infrastructure investment and policy).
This meeting also continued the process of establishing a vision and goals for the Eight County Freight Plan. Establishing this early on in the planning process will ensure that the final plan recommendations are focused and aligned with what matters most to the region. The Steering Committee provided feedback on the updated vision and an initial set of goals.
Steering Committee Meeting #4 – Developing a Framework for Conducting the Freight System Needs Assessment
The Eight County Freight Plan will assess freight system needs using both quantitative and qualitative data and information. To best accomplish this, and ensure needs are assessed against what is most important to the Region, this meeting formalized a framework that connects the freight plan vision and goals with performance measures. Freight performance areas that will be assessed to identify multimodal system needs include safety, efficiency, reliability and connectivity. The results of this quantitative assessment will be compared against qualitative feedback received from the Steering Committee and other Regional stakeholders engaged during consultations and an online survey. As example, some of this feedback will include results of the discussion held during the meeting on the preliminary Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) findings.
This meeting also provided an overview of the visualization tool that will be used to display the myriad data collected during the planning process. A live demonstration illustrated how the project stakeholders will be able to query the tool to better understand the Region's supply chains and connections to the Nation.