The Alabama Statewide Freight Study and Action Plan was a study initiated by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) recognizing the need for research in freight transportation. Research included identifying freight related constraints and how potential improvements to the State’s transportation system can facilitate freight mobility as well as the associated interrelationships between economic growth and transportation infrastructure. The study team was composed of the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) Office for Freight, Logistics and Transportation and the consulting firm of J. R. Wilburn and Associates, Inc. Current and future multimodal freight movements into and out of the state, as well as the condition, operations and safety of the multimodal system, were analyzed. All modes of freight movement—truck, rail, air and water— were examined as a part of this study. Although there is a diversity of freight on all of the state’s highway facilities, it is apparent that certain commodities use specific facilities more often. A review of specific commodities and routes taken was helpful in understanding deficiencies along a route. Similarly, using criteria to determine congestion, safety and truck concentrations on the Alabama Highway Network assisted in identifying deficient locations in the freight highway network. Understanding the total character of freight movements along a corridor—its prevalent commodities and potential safety and operational constraints—was helpful in refining possible recommendations and improvements for increasing system efficiency and safety.
The study findings were intended to provide information to a number of parties—decision makers at ALDOT, other agencies and the private sector—as they continue looking for ways to accommodate the ever increasing volume of freight on the state’s highways. ALDOT will take a lead role in ensuring the accumulated data on freight movement is maintained for use by the Department and others. In particular, ALDOT will be able to use the information regarding existing and future needs in developing its construction program.