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Freight’s Role in Delivering Equitable Cities (Part I)

Publication: Goods Movement 2030: An Urban Freight Blog
Publication Date: 2022

What does an equitable and just freight system actually look like?

We asked UFL members this question at the summer 2022 quarterly meeting. Their responses, shown in the graphic below, cover a wide range of ideas and topics. Some define equity in terms of equal access to the numerous benefits a freight system brings; others call for a reduction in freight costs — like pollution, noise, and traffic — to historically marginalized people.

Members differ on who the appropriate stakeholders are when it comes to addressing equity in urban freight. Is it the public agencies and big companies currently driving zero-carbon transitions? The warehouse workers, owner-operators and migrant truck drivers? The customers who shop online? Or the families who live near warehouses and truck routes?

Addressing these challenges is no simple task. Such questions challenge the urban freight community to grapple with the implications of histories of injustices that remain visible in today’s freight networks. And it also challenges us to look beyond the purview of planners and policymakers and assess the active role logistics companies play in delivering equity. In fact, evidence suggests the C-suite does think seriously about justice both within and beyond the context of the company. These understandings can be a foundation for a more equitable freight system and creating a truly equitable city.

Authors: Travis Fried
Recommended Citation:
"Freight’s Role in Delivering Equitable Cities (Part I)" Goods Movement 2030 (blog). Urban Freight Lab, November 16, 2022.
Technical Report

Development and Analysis of a GIS-Based Statewide Freight Data Flow Network

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Publication: Washington State Department of Transportation
Publication Date: 2009
In the face of many risks of disruptions to our transportation system, this research improves WSDOT’s ability to manage the freight transportation system so that it minimizes the economic consequences of transportation disruptions.
Faced with a high probability that major disruptions to the transportation system will
harm the state’s economy, the Washington State Department of Transportation
(WSDOT), in partnership with Transportation Northwest (TransNow) commissioned
researchers at the University of Washington and Washington State University to
undertake freight resiliency research to:
  • Understand how disruptions of the state’s freight corridors change the way
    trucking companies and various freight-dependent industries route goods,
  • Plan to protect freight-dependent sectors that are at high risk from these disruptive
    events, and
  • Prioritize future transportation investments based on the risk of economic loss to
    the state
To accurately predict how companies will route shipments during a disruption,
this research developed the first statewide multimodal freight model for Washington
State. The model is a GIS-based portrayal of the state’s freight highway, arterial, rail,
waterway and intermodal network and can help the state prioritize strategies that protect industries most vulnerable to disruptions.
The report features two case studies showing the model’s capabilities: the potato growing and processing industry was chosen as a representative agricultural sector, and diesel fuel distribution for its importance to all industry sectors. The case studies are found in sections 5.2 and 5.3 in the report and show how the statewide freight model can:
  • Predict how shipments will be re-routed during disruptions, and
  • Analyze the level of resiliency in various industry sectors in Washington State
The two case studies document the fragility of the state’s potato growing and processing
sectors and its dependence on the I-90 corridor, while showing how the state’s diesel
delivery system is highly resilient and isn’t linked to I-90.
As origin-destination data for other freight-dependent sectors is added to the model,
WSDOT will be able to evaluate the impact of freight system disruptions on each of
them. This will improve WSDOT’s ability to develop optimal strategies for highway
closures, and prioritize improvements to the system based on the relative impact of the
This research addressed several technical areas that would need to be resolved by any
organization building a state freight model. First, the researchers had to decide on the
level of spatial and temporal detail to include in the statewide GIS freight model. This
decision has significant consequences for data resolution requirements and results.
Including every road in Washington would have created a cumbersome model with a
large number of links that weren’t used. However, in order to analyze routing during a
disruption all possible connections must exist between origin and destination points in the model. While the team initially included only the core freight network in the model,
ultimately all road links were added to create complete network connectivity.
Second, as state- and corridor-level commodity flow data is practically non-existent, data
collection for the two case studies was resource intensive. Supply chain data is held by
various stakeholders and typically not listed on public websites, and it isn’t organized by
those stakeholders for use in a freight model. In most cases it’s difficult to assure data
quality. The team learned that the most difficult data to obtain is data on spatially or
temporally variable attributes, such as truck location and volume. So they developed a
method to estimate the importance of transportation links without commodity flow data.

Third, the freight model identified the shortest route, based on travel time, between any
origin and destination (O/D) pair in the state, and the shortest travel-time re-route for
each O/D pair after a disruption. The routing logic in the model is based on accepted
algorithms used by Google Maps and MapQuest. Phase III of the state’s freight
resiliency research was funded by WSDOT and will result in improved truck freight
routing logic for the model in 2011.
The two case studies showed how the state’s supply chains use infrastructure differently,
and that some supply chains have built flexibility into their operations and are resilient
while others are not, which leads to very different economic consequences. The results
of these case studies significantly contributed to WSDOT’s understanding of goods
movement and vulnerability to disruptions.
In the future, Washington State will need corridor-level commodity flow data to
implement the research findings and complete the state freight model. In 2009, the
National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) funded development of new
methodology to collect and analyze sub-national commodity flow information. This
NCFRP project, funded at $500,000, will be completed in 2010 and provide a mechanism for states to accurately account for corridor-level commodity flows. If funds are available to implement the new methodology in Washington State, the state’s freight
model will use the information to map these existing origin destination commodity flows
onto the freight network, evaluate the number of re-routed commercial vehicles, and their increased reroute distance from any disruption. This will allow WSDOT to develop
prioritized plans for supply chain disruptions, and recommend improvements to the
system based on the economic impact of the disruption.
This report summarizes 1) the results from a thorough review of resilience literature and resilience practices within enterprises and organizations, 2) the development of a GIS-based statewide freight transportation network model, 3) the collection of detailed data regarding two important industries in Washington state, the distribution of potatoes and diesel fuel, and 4) analysis of the response of these industries to specific disruptions to the state transportation network.
The report also includes recommendations for improvements and additions to the GIS model that will further the state’s goals of understanding the relationship between infrastructure availability and economic activity, as well as recommendations for improvements to the statewide freight transportation model so that it can capture additional system complexity.
Authors: Dr. Anne GoodchildDr. Ed McCormack, Eric Jessup, Derik Andreoli, Kelly Pitera, Sunny Rose, Chilan Ta
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne V., Eric L. Jessup, Edward D. McCormack, Derik Andreoli, S Rose, Chilan Ta and Kelly Pitera. “Development and Analysis of a GIS-Based Statewide Freight Data Flow Network.” (2009).

Activity Modeling of Freight Flows in Washington State: Case Studies of the Resilience of Potato and Diesel Distribution Systems

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Publication Date: 2009
This paper describes the development and use of a network model using publicly available industry data to analyze the resilience of two important Washington state industries. Modeling of freight activity in support of the potato and diesel industry in Washington state demonstrates how individual industries utilize the road network and how they are affected by a transportation disruption. We estimate the potato industry, which relies entirely on trucks for intra-state deliveries, generates about 50 cross-Cascade truck trips per day. Roughly 90 percent of the trucks deliver potatoes from processing facilities on the east side of the state to markets on the west side, while 10 percent carry fresh potatoes from the west to the east for processing. The coupled origins and destinations do not vary unless there is a disruption to the network. The diesel distribution system in Washington state also relies heavily on trucks, but only for the final segment of the logistics chain because both barge transport and pipelines are more cost effective modes. By necessity, trucks deliver from terminals to racks, but there is an established flexibility in these distribution operations as routes and travel distances regularly change because of variations in commodity price at each terminal and the presence of multiple terminals. As a consequence, we demonstrate that the diesel distribution system is much more resilient to roadway disruptions, especially those which occur along the cross-Cascades routes. These examples demonstrate the necessity of understanding industry practice as it relates to analyzing needed infrastructure and operational improvements to reduce economic impacts resulting from transportation disruptions.



Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Sunny Rose, Derik Andreoli, Eric Jessup.
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne. Sunny Rose, Derik Andreoli, and Eric Jessup. "Activity Modeling of Freight Flows in Washington State: Case Studies of the Resilience of Potato and Diesel Distribution Systems." 
Technical Report

Developing a System for Computing and Reporting MAP-21 and Other Freight Performance Measures

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Publication: Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Publication Date: 2015

This report documents the use of the National Performance Monitoring Research Data Set (NPMRDS) for the computation of freight performance measures on Interstate highways in Washington state. The report documents the data availability and specific data quality issues identified with NPMRDS. It then describes a recommended initial set of quality assurance tests that are needed before WSDOT begins producing freight performance measures.

The report also documents the initial set of performance measures that can be produced with the NPMRDS and the specific steps required to do so. A subset of those metrics was tested using NPMRDS data, including delay and frequency of congestion, to illustrate how WSDOT could use the freight performance measures. Finally, recommendations and the next steps that WSDOT needs to take are discussed.

This report describes the outcome of the initial exploration of the National Performance Research Monitoring Data Set (NPMRDS), supplied by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to state transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations for use in computing roadway performance measures.

The NPMRDS provides roadway performance data for the national highway system (NHS). The intent of the NPMRDS was to provide a travel time estimate for every 5-minute time interval (epoch) of the year for all roadway segments in the NHS. The NPMRDS data are derived from instantaneous vehicle probe speed data supplied by a variety of GPS devices carried by both trucks and cars. The data are supplied on a geographic information system (GIS) roadway network, which divides the NHS into directional road segments based on the Traffic Message Channel (TMC) standard.

The report describes the availability, attributes, quality, and limitations of the NPMRDS data on the Interstates in the state of Washington.

Based on the review of the NPMRDS data, this report recommends a set of performance metrics for WSDOT’s use that describe the travel conditions that trucks moving freight within the state experience. It describes specific steps for computing those measures. And it uses a subset of those measures produced with the NPMRDS to illustrate how WSDOT can use those measures in its reporting and decision-making procedures.

Recommended Citation:
Hallenbeck, Mark E., Ed McCormack, and Saravanya Sankarakumaraswamy. Developing a system for computing and reporting MAP-21 and other freight performance measures. No. WA-RD 844.1. Washington (State). Dept. of Transportation. Research Office, 2015. 

Travel Costs Associated with Flood Closures of State Highways near Centralia/Chehalis, Washington

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Publication: The State of Washington Department of Transportation
Publication Date: 2014

This report discusses the travel costs associated with the closure of roads in the greater Centralia/Chehalis, Washington region due to 100-year flood conditions starting on the Chehalis River. The costs were computed for roadway closures on I-5, US 12, and SR 6, and are based on estimated road closure durations supplied by WSDOT. The computed costs are only those directly related to travel that would otherwise have occurred on the roads affected by the flooding closures. The computed costs do not include the economic losses associated with delayed delivery of goods or services, losses in economic activity attributable to travelers being unable to reach their intended destinations, or economic losses associated with the loss of goods because they could not be delivered. The reported costs do include the added costs of time and vehicle mileage associated with available detour routes. Costs were also estimated for each trip that will be abandoned. That is, this study estimated the number of trips that will not be made as a result of road closures. The researchers also conducted a sensitivity analysis of the findings for the I-5 cost computation. Sensitivity tests were conducted for the value of time, the speeds and level of congestion assumed to occur on the routes used for detours, the values associated with trips that are not made via the expected detours, the percentage of personal trips made for work/business purposes versus those being made for personal reasons, the fraction of cars and trucks willing to detour, the effects of flood closure during the weekend or the summer, and growth in traffic volumes on I-5.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Mark Hallenbeck, Jerome Drescher
Recommended Citation:
Hallenbeck, Mark E., Anne Goodchild, and Jerome Drescher. Travel costs associated with flood closures of state highways near Centralia/Chehalis, Washington. No. WA-RD 832.1. Washington (State). Dept. of Transportation. Research Office, 2014.

Review of Performance Metrics for Community-Based Planning for Resilience of the Transportation System

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Publication:  Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Volume: 2604
Pages: 44-53
Publication Date: 2017

Community resilience depends on the resilience of the lifeline infrastructure and the performance of the disaster-related functions of local governments. State and federal resilience plans and guidelines acknowledge the importance of the transportation system as a critical lifeline in planning for community resilience and in helping local governments to set recovery goals. However, a widely accepted definition of the resilience of the transportation system and a structure for its measurement are not available. This paper provides a literature review that summarizes the metrics used to assess the resilience of the transportation system and a categorization of the assessment approaches at three levels of analysis (the asset, network, and systems levels). Furthermore, this paper ties these metrics to relevant dimensions of community resilience. This work addresses a key first step required to enhance the efficiency of planning related to transportation system resilience by providing (a) a standard terminology with which efforts to enhance the resilience of the transportation system can be developed, (b) an approach to organize planning and research efforts related to the resilience of the transportation system, and (c) identification of the gaps in measurement of the performance of the resilience of the transportation system.

Recommended Citation:
Machado, Jose Luis, and Anne Goodchild. Review of Performance Metrics for Community-Based Planning for Resilience of the Transportation System. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Record, 2604(1), 44–53.
Student Thesis and Dissertations

Economic Implications of the Use of Technology in Commercial Vehicle Operations

Publication Date: 2012

The effective and efficient movement of freight is essential to the economic well-being of our country but freight transport also adversely impacts our society by contributing to a large number of crashes, including those resulting in injuries and fatalities. Technology has been used increasingly to facilitate safety and operational improvements within commercial vehicle operations, but motor carriers operate on small profit margins, limiting their ability to make large investments without also seeing an economic benefit from such technologies. This dissertation explores the economic implications associated with using onboard monitoring systems to enhance safety in commercial vehicle operations.

First, to better understand how electronic on-board systems work, paper-based methods of recording driver hours of service are compared to automated (or electronically recorded) hours of service for three motor carriers using process analysis. This analysis addressed the differences between manual (paper-based) and electronic methods of recording hours of service, specifically as they relate to the frequencies and magnitude of the errors. Potential errors are categorized by operations within an information-based process and the findings suggest that a reduction of errors can be achieved with an electronic system.

A benefit-cost analysis provides a better understanding of the economic implications of onboard monitoring systems from the perspective of the carrier. In addition to the benefits of reduced crashes, benefits associated with electronic recording of hours of service, reduced mileage, and reduced fuel costs are considered. A sensitivity analysis is used and demonstrates that on-board monitoring systems are economically viable under a wide range of conditions. Results indicate that, for some fleet types, reducing crashes and improving hours of service recording, provides a net benefit of close to $300,000 over the five-year expected lifespan of the system. Furthermore, when exploring additional benefits such as reduced fuel consumption and reduced vehicle miles, benefits can be upwards of seven times more than safety-related benefits. This research also shows that net positive benefits are possible in large and small-sized fleets. Results can be used to inform policies for motivating or mandating carriers to use such systems and to inform carriers regarding the value of system investment.

Authors: Kelly A. Pitera
Recommended Citation:
Pitera, Kelly Ann. "Economic Implications of the Use of Technology in Commercial Vehicle Operations." PhD diss., 2012.
Thesis: Array

Effect of Tsunami Damage on Passenger and Forestry Transportation in Pacific County Washington

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Publication: Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Volume: 2604 (1)
Pages: 88-94
Publication Date: 2017

The outer coast of Washington State is exposed to significant seismic and tsunami hazards. A Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) event is expected to cause high earthquake intensities and tsunami inundation resulting in considerable infrastructure loss, inundation of developed land, and degraded functioning of coastal communities.

One area of particular concern is Pacific County, located in southwest Washington, where over 85% of the population is expected to experience severe shaking intensities.

This paper establishes the pre-disaster passenger and freight transportation patterns and the damaged post-disaster road network in Pacific County. The hazard used in the analysis is the CSZ magnitude 9.1 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Passenger travel is compared to forestry travel along the following characteristics: overall change in travel distance, percentage of trips that are longer, the percentage of trips that are no longer possible, and the distributions of travel distance.

Because passenger and freight travel have different purposes and patterns, understanding how they are affected differently can serve as a foundation for community-based disaster recovery planning to increase community resilience to earthquakes and tsunamis.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Maura Rowell
Recommended Citation:
Rowell, Maura, and Anne Goodchild. "Effect of Tsunami Damage on Passenger and Forestry Transportation in Pacific County, Washington." Transportation Research Record 2604, no. 1 (2017): 88-94.

Assessing the Safety Effects of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems: A Bowtie Analysis Approach

Publication: Accident Analysis and Prevention
Volume: 99 (A)
Pages: 125-141
Publication Date: 2017

The safety effects of cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) are mostly unknown and associated with uncertainties, because these systems represent emerging technology. This study proposes a bowtie analysis as a conceptual framework for evaluating the safety effect of cooperative intelligent transport systems. These seek to prevent road traffic accidents or mitigate their consequences. Under the assumption of the potential occurrence of a particular single-vehicle accident, three case studies demonstrate the application of the bowtie analysis approach in road traffic safety. The approach utilizes exemplary expert estimates and knowledge from literature on the probability of the occurrence of accident risk factors and of the success of safety measures. Fuzzy set theory is applied to handle uncertainty in expert knowledge. Based on this approach, a useful tool is developed to estimate the effects of safety-related cooperative intelligent transport systems in terms of the expected change in accident occurrence and consequence probability.

Authors: Dr. Ed McCormack, Ute Christine Ehlers, Eirin Olaussen Ryeng, Faisal Khan, Sören Ehlers
Recommended Citation:
Ehlers, Ute Christine, Eirin Olaussen Ryeng, Edward McCormack, Faisal Khan, and Sören Ehlers. "Assessing the safety effects of cooperative intelligent transport systems: A bowtie analysis approach." Accident Analysis & Prevention 99 (2017): 125-141.

Dr. Ed McCormack

Dr. Ed McCormack
Dr. Ed McCormack
  • Research Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
  • Director, Sustainable Transportation Master's degree program  |  206-543-3348  |  Wilson Ceramics Lab 108
  • Freight Mobility in Urban Areas
  • Transportation Technology Evaluation
  • Freight Systems Performance Measurement

Dr. Ed McCormack’s research program is broadly around the theme of the use of technology to improve mobility for people and goods. Improved data storage, wireless communications, and faster computers have created new streams of high quality transportation information. This information allows operators and the public to be more strategic and efficient about using our transportation system but also requires new thinking and innovative approaches. Given the belief in our society that technology can solve many problems, one challenge that he frequently addresses in his research is elemental: what works? For example, his research has evaluated the application and usability of different in-vehicle tracking technologies and of freight-oriented traveler information systems.

A second topic of importance is his recent research—derived from his interest in technology—that explores the development of quantitative tools that can use streaming data. Many of his projects have used these data to create performance measures that allow the monitoring of vehicle travel activity and the calculation of metrics that support engineering and planning decisions.

He has increasingly focused on freight mobility. Despite freight’s obvious importance to our society, this area of transportation has traditionally been understudied by academics, particularly in comparison to people transportation. As a researcher, he has found that there are opportunities to provide innovative insights in this area.

  • Faculty Appreciation for Career Education & Training (FACET) Award for mentoring of students (2020)
  • Ph.D., Geography, University of Washington (1997)
    Dissertation: A Chained-Based Exploration of Work Travel by Residents of Mixed Land-Use Neighborhoods
  • M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Washington (1985)
    Thesis: An Examination of Transit’s Work-Share Using Census Journey–to-Work and Transit On-Board Survey Data
  • B.S.E., Geography, University of Washington (1979)

Dr. Ed McCormack is an international leader in truck GPS data applications for freight performance measurement, and technology that facilitates truck flows along roadways and through border crossings and marine ports. He developed methods for the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Norwegian government to measure truck speed and reliability performance on highways and roads through the analysis of truck GPS data. He recently served as the Chief Engineer in the ITS section of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

He holds a PhD in Geography, MS in Civil Engineering, and a BA in Geography—all from the University of Washington. Before working at UW, he was an engineering consultant with David Evans and Associates and a transportation planner with both King County and the Puget Sound Regional Councils.

Dr. McCormack has worked on National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB) projects to identify and improve truck bottlenecks, incorporate smart growth principles into freight forecasting tools, and help public agencies obtain freight data and turn it into valuable information.

He is an independent evaluator for U.S. Department of Transportation freight technology projects, including those addressing truck queuing and congestion. He is directs and teaches in the Sustainable Transportation Master’s degree program and Livable Communities certificate program.

  • Professor (II), Department of Civil and Transport Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Adjunct Research Associate Professor, Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington