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Economic Metrics for the Prioritization of Critical Freight Infrastructure Needs

Schroeder, Jeremy
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Schroeder, Jeremy
Demetsky, Michael
Fully operational highways are necessary for efficient freight movements by the trucking industry. Yet, the combination of limited funding and aging infrastructure creates a grim scenario for states, which are dependent upon the economic benefits of goods movements. This research develops a comprehensive, freight-based prioritization framework to identify freight infrastructure needs critical to maintaining economic vitality by incorporating economic metrics associated with infrastructure performance and level of service. Framework outputs are a prioritized list of infrastructure needs to sustain economically critical highway infrastructure with consideration to regional economic impacts and safety and mobility improvements. In summary, the framework first evaluates infrastructure needs on a specified highway network, then prioritizes those needs using a decision model to balance developed economic metrics that estimate regional corridor-wide benefits of the local improvement with severity of needs as quantified with conditional performance measures. The developed metrics and prioritization methods are consistently applicable to any region within the United States, and two concept demonstrations examine data from the Virginia highway system to demonstrate the methodology. A review of literature documents existing and proposed highway improvement prioritization frameworks to incorporate best practices into the methodology developed for this research. While the literature discounts use of economic development performance measures and the economic importance of a corridor is typically taken for granted, this research adds the dimension of economic significance of a corridor into the prioritization process for infrastructure improvements to generate motivation for private sector investment. An input-output model is used to identify the most transportation dependent industrial sectors, which are then linked with commodity flows using the Federal Highway Administration’s Freight Analysis Framework. A set of readily available conditional performance measures are selected to identify critical locations meriting improvements. The prioritization methodology is demonstrated by applying the three developed economic metrics to two concept demonstrations in Virginia: the U.S. 460 expressway between Petersburg and Hampton Roads and the U.S. 29 bypass in Charlottesville.
University of Virginia, Department of Civil Engineering, PHD, 2013
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