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Guide for Identifying, Classifying, Evaluating, and Mitigating Truck Freight Bottlenecks

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Publication: Transportation Research Board - NCHRP Research Report
Volume: 854
Publication Date: 2017

The demand for truck transportation increases alongside growth in population and economic activity. As both truck and passenger traffic outstrip roadway capacity, the result is congestion, which the freight community experiences as truck bottlenecks. This NCHRP project produced a Guidebook that provides state-of-the-practice information to transportation professionals on practices and measures for identifying, classifying, evaluating, and mitigating truck freight bottlenecks. The intent is to help decision-makers in developing cost-effective solutions to address different types of truck freight bottlenecks.

The Guidebook is designed for use by transportation planners and research and operational staff. Its contents

  • Define a common language related to truck freight bottlenecks
  • Classify truck freight bottleneck categories based on causal and contributing factors
  • Describe truck bottleneck state of the practice
  • Provide highlights from several case studies related to truck bottlenecks
  • Describe data sources used for truck bottleneck analysis
  • Provide a spatially scalable methodology for identifying truck freight bottlenecks
  • Describe quantitative measures for truck freight bottleneck categories for determining bottleneck severity, impact, and ranking and subsequent decision-making
  • Describe mitigation options for truck freight bottlenecks
  • Describe how to integrate freight bottleneck analysis into the planning process.

The Guidebook embraces a broad term for “truck freight bottlenecks” as any condition that acts as an impediment to efficient truck travel, thereby leading to travel times in excess of what would normally occur. This definition encompasses a wide range of events and conditions, all of which add time to the delivery of truck freight shipments, from the time those shipments leave their origin to the time they arrive at their destination.

The Guidebook describes two methodologies for identifying truck freight bottlenecks:

  • A travel speed-based delay methodology, and
  • A process or operation delay-based methodology.

The bottleneck analysis described in the Guidebook focuses on utilizing truck probe data rather than traditional travel demand models. Truck probe speed data can be used in conjunction with other data sources (e.g., crash data, weather data, volume data) to identify the causes of bottlenecks. The methodologies are scalable in multiple ways, and this will allow agencies to use their available data resources regardless of the source or size of those resources. In addition, the same analytical approach will work whether the analysis is performed for an entire state highway network, a regional network, or even a specific city. The recommended approach can also be applied to a single road segment, multiple roads within a geographic corridor, an entire region, to all roads in the state, or to all roads in a multistate region. Finally, the methodology can be used to demonstrate the benefit of bottleneck improvements to truckers, policy decision-makers, and the general public. This is particularly true for bottlenecks based on operational restrictions (such as geometric or height restrictions or truck bans).

Authors: Dr. Anne GoodchildDr. Ed McCormack, Dike Ahanotu, Richard Margiotta, Bill Eisele, Mark Hallenbeck
Recommended Citation:
Ahanotu, Dike, Richard Margiotta, Bill Eisele, Mark Hallenbeck, Anne Goodchild, and Ed McCormack. (2017) Guide for Identifying, Classifying, Evaluating, and Mitigating Truck Freight Bottlenecks. Transportation Research Board. Project 08-98. 2017.

Development and Application of a Framework to Classify and Mitigate Truck Bottlenecks to Improve Freight Mobility

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Publication: Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Volume: TRN Annual Meeting
Publication Date: 2018

This paper presents a framework to classify and mitigate roadway bottlenecks and that is designed to improve freight mobility. This is in recognition that roadway operations for trucks are under studied, truck-only bottlenecks are often not identified and freight-specific problem areas are therefore often overlooked. The framework uses four-steps:

Step 1: identifies and locates the roadway sections where vehicle travel time is in excess of what would normally occur.

Step 2: made possible by increasingly available truck probe data, identifies bottlenecks for all vehicles or for trucks only. This is necessary to identify bottlenecks that notably impact freight mobility and might not be identified by car-based approaches.

Step 3: classifies bottlenecks as travel speed-based or process-based. This selects the mitigation treatments as mainly due to operational or roadway limitations.

Step 4: which is the core of the paper, supports the mitigation process by determining the cause of the bottleneck. The bottlenecks are identified as due to congestion, limitations where roadway design slows all vehicles, or where a truck’s size or weight can slow vehicles (such as tight curves or bridge restrictions).

The paper present a review of specific roadway attributes that limit a truck’s mobility and is used to suggest mitigation. The framework is demonstrated using a case study. The framework is designed to be applied by planning and infrastructure agencies who want to locate and address freight bottlenecks in a systematic manner using available resources as well as by researchers interested in linking roadway attributes to truck mobility.

Authors: Dr. Ed McCormackDr. Anne Goodchild, William Eisele, Mark Hallenbeck
Recommended Citation:
McCormack, Edward, Anne Goodchild, W. Eisele, and Mark Hallenbeck. "Development and Application of a Framework to Classify and Mitigate Truck Bottlenecks to Improve Freight Mobility." TRN Annual Meeting, Washington D.C. 2018.

Using Truck Probe GPS Data to Identify and Rank Roadway Bottlenecks

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Publication: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Transportation Engineering
Volume: 139(1)
Pages: 7-Jan
Publication Date: 2013

This paper describes the development of a systematic methodology for identifying and ranking bottlenecks using probe data collected by commercial global positioning system fleet management devices mounted on trucks. These data are processed in a geographic information system and assigned to a roadway network to provide performance measures for individual segments. The authors hypothesized that truck speed distributions on these segments can be represented by either a unimodal or bimodal probability density function and proposed a new reliability measure for evaluating roadway performance. Travel performance was classified into three categories: unreliable, reliably fast, and reliably slow. A mixture of two Gaussian distributions was identified as the best fit for the overall distribution of truck speed data. Roadway bottlenecks were ranked on the basis of both the reliability and congestion measurements. The method was used to evaluate the performance of Washington state roadway segments, and proved efficient at identifying and ranking truck bottlenecks.

Authors: Dr. Ed McCormack, Wenjuan Zhao, Daniel J. Dailey, Eric Scharnhorst
Recommended Citation:
Zhao, Wenjuan, Edward McCormack, Daniel J. Dailey, and Eric Scharnhorst. "Using truck probe GPS data to identify and rank roadway bottlenecks." Journal of Transportation Engineering 139, no. 1 (2012): 1-7.