How the Relationship between Public Officials and the Freight Industry Impacts Planning and Development
Mannella, Steven A.
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Public officials desire to better influence both the positive economic impacts and the negative quality of life impacts that the past and expected future growth in intermodal freight presents to communities. In addition to the impacts freight growth presents to communities, freight developers can gain value by lessening the community and political resistance that their projects face. Members of the freight industry and public officials must work together to overcome development issues that arise when developing freight projects to ensure maximum benefits for the freight network and for communities. The relationship between the freight industry and public officials has been studied primarily at the Metropolitan Planning Organization and State Department of Transportation levels, but should also be studied at the local level to examine how the relationship affects the development of freight projects and community impacts. The author conducts a literature review on the challenges facing the integration of freight projects into the transportation planning process, the growth and impacts of freight intermodal operations, and freight intermodal project development and its impacts on communities. The author also conducts interviews with public officials and representatives from Class I railroads for two cases of the development of freight intermodal terminals. This thesis finds critical areas where gaps exist between members of the freight industry and public officials and the effects these gaps have on the common development issues for freight intermodal projects. Differences in regulation at all levels of government significantly impact how a freight intermodal terminal is developed regarding the level of review and public participation that is required. The development process that must be followed for these projects can greatly vary based on what state, county, town, or environmentally sensitive land the project is located. The inconsistency results in the development process not effectively utilizing project review and public participation and at other times being too strenuous on development. This thesis also finds how public officials’ lack of formal freight training and industry knowledge impacts attempts to capture economic benefits from freight activity and to avoid negative impacts to their communities’ quality of life due to freight activity.