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  5. Transportation researchers help identify economic impact of traffic congestion on truck-borne freight

Transportation researchers help identify economic impact of traffic congestion on truck-borne freight

The 2010 Urban Mobility Report, the most accurate picture of traffic congestion in 439 U.S. urban areas, now includes information about truck delay and the economic impact of congestion specific to trucking. The National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research (CFIRE), a National University Transportation Center based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, sponsored the effort to include truck delay information through a project led by Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Jessica Guo, CFIRE associate director; and Deputy Director Jason Bittner.

”As our economy begins to rebound, it is critical that shipments navigate the supply chain distribution system efficiently. Unfortunately, the cost to the economy of congestion—and specifically freight congestion—is too high,” says Bittner. “We offer some solutions, but at the end of the day, we need to recognize that if we don’t invest in the system, our competitiveness will suffer here and abroad.”

In addition to showing a solid relationship between commodity value rankings and truck delay rankings in urban areas, this research also demonstrates the importance of both Milwaukee and Madison as crucial links in important trade corridors. “Wisconsin’s Interstate and U.S. highway corridors help serve the whole nation,” says Bittner.

  • Milwaukee ranked 33rd nationally in total delay, 34th in trucking delay, but 20th in total commodity value.
  • Madison ranked 91st in total delay, 93rd in trucking delay, but 57th in commodity value.

CFIRE researchers also have identified several strategies for reducing congestion, including identifying and mitigating bottlenecks and removing artificial restrictions such as delivery prohibitions and lane restrictions. Guo has led national efforts to better identify and alleviate bottlenecks in the trucking network. "Findings to date about truck delay and freight bottlenecks calls for more comprehensive and localized analysis of the causes of and solutions to freight bottlenecks,” says Guo. “Cooperation between states, as well as between the public and private sectors, is vital to ensuring that valuable and limited resources are distributed such that they reduce freight congestion in a prudent and cost-effective manner.”

The 2010 Urban Mobility Report is published by the Texas Transportation Institute and uses a wealth of traffic speed data provided by INRIX, a leading private-sector provider of travel time information.  

Steve Wagner
1/20/2011