Freight Systems & Intermodal Planning

intermodal planning By the year 2035, U.S. domestic freight tonnage is anticipated to double, while international freight tonnage will nearly triple. This will place unprecedented demands on our nation’s freight infrastructure – our highways, railroads and rail terminals, airports, seaports, and border crossings. The states and regions that plan for and accommodate this growth will enhance their competitiveness in global and domestic markets, thereby generating substantial economic benefits. But critical challenges – balancing the desire for freight efficiency with the need for freight security, increasing freight capacity while also meeting passenger mobility goals, delivering effective freight improvements with limited resources, and building successful partnerships between the public sector and private freight industries – must be addressed.

Cambridge Systematics is an internationally recognized leader in the field of intermodal freight transportation. For more than 30 years, we have helped public and private sector clients addressing trucking, rail, air, and marine issues develop innovative solutions, and we are working now on the next generation of freight policies, programs, and planning tools. We help our clients identify critical issues, develop and apply data and analytical tools, build effective public-private partnerships, and support the successful delivery of innovative freight projects and strategies.

Our Services

freight planning
  • National Freight Policy and Programs. Cambridge Systematics has been active in the national freight policy arena for more than 30 years. We have authored more than a dozen reports on freight transportation planning topics for the Transportation Research Board. We completed the first Freight-Rail Bottom Line Report for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). We have provided, and continue to provide, task order policy and planning services to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Freight Management and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Secretary.
  • Multi-State and Statewide Freight Planning.  Cambridge Systematics has developed statewide freight plans, freight elements of statewide transportation plans, and freight models in more than 20 states, including Florida, California, Texas, and Ohio. In addition, we offer a full range of state rail plan development services and multimodal bottleneck analysis. We have supported many of the nation’s most prominent multi-state and trade corridor initiatives, including the I-95 Corridor Coalition from Maine to Florida; the I-5 trade corridor in Oregon and Washington; the I-10 corridor from Louisiana to Texas; the International Mobility and Trade Corridor in Washington and British Columbia; and major Canadian and Mexican border studies. We completed the Mid-Atlantic Rail Operations Study, a cooperative partnership of five states and three railroads, to develop a $6.2 billion, 20-year joint investment program for coordinated multi-state passenger and freight rail improvements.
  • Urban and Regional Freight Planning.  Cambridge Systematics has provided freight services to more than 30 metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) and local agencies. These have included projects for the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), as well as smaller MPOs, counties, and cities. At the local level, we are assisting the City of Chicago with its role in the CREATE project, a major freight rail infrastructure improvement project. We have been involved in the development of pioneering public-private partnerships, including the Columbus, Ohio Inland Port Program and the Seattle FAST Corridor Truck Mobility Strategy.
  • Project Planning and Environmental Review.  Cambridge Systematics led both the environmental impact statement (EIS) and portions of the major investment study, and has been leading elements of the ongoing environmental impact statement of the nation’s largest freight project, the proposed Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel Project underneath New York harbor. We have supported SCAG on feasibility studies and corridor studies for the nation’s first system of truck-only lanes. We also have conducted market feasibility studies for new rail services and intermodal facilities, including analysis of the California Interregional Intermodal Shuttle to the Port of Oakland and the rail freight elements of the Trans-Texas Corridor program along I-69. As part of this service area, Cambridge Systematics provides port access planning support, including innovative operational approaches. We are supporting the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in the analysis of port truck trip reduction strategies and we have conducted analysis of access improvements to ports in the New York/New Jersey area. For the FHWA’s National Highway Institute, we developed and delivered comprehensive freight and environmental training courses.
  • Freight Modeling and Analysis Tools.  Cambridge Systematics pioneered the use of econometric models to assess the comprehensive impact of major transportation infrastructure improvements. We developed one of the earliest truck travel demand models, which became the basis for the FHWA’s Quick Response Freight Manual. We have continued to push the state-of-the-practice in freight and truck modeling, developing innovative methods that combine the best of commodity flow models, vehicle-based travel demand models, opera­tional simulations, and modal diversion models. Furthermore, we have integrated these models with other tools to produce a unique set of freight performance evaluation tools combining mobility, economic impact, benefit/cost, air quality, and safety analysis tools. Cambridge Systematics offers a freight analysis toolkit designed to help clients understand and analyze freight flows and their impacts on transportation systems.
  • Commercial Vehicle Operations and Safety.  Cambridge Systematics has supported the U.S. DOT’s commercial vehicle operations (CVO) and truck safety programs for more than 30 years. We helped develop and implement the Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) architecture and deployment initiative, and we now are working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop innovative driver, vehicle, and safety technologies to help meet the FMCSA’s goal of reducing fatalities in truck and bus crashes. Cambridge Systematics offers commercial vehicle safety and regulatory information systems that enable the trucking community to conduct on-line business transactions with state regulatory agencies and improve the safety and efficiency of motor carrier operations.
  • Freight Security.  Cambridge Systematics is leading the FMCSA’s initiative to identify technology and operational strategies for enhancing the security of commercial drivers, vehicles, and cargo crossing the border between the United States and Canada. We developed the U.S. DOT’s operational test program for application of ITS technologies to intermodal freight operations, and we currently are evaluating groundbreaking tests of electronic seals and electronic cargo manifests in Seattle and Chicago. We also are supporting freight security programs addressing access to major seaports and airports, including the Port of New York and New Jersey and Port Everglades.

Why Cambridge Systematics

Cambridge Systematics offers internationally recognized leadership in freight planning. Our services are grounded in a solid understanding of the public and private components of the freight movement system, in the development and use of state-of-the-art data and analytical tools, and in our commitment to fact-based analysis. Our approach is designed to support informed decision-making and, ultimately, successful implementation of freight projects and strategies.

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