Friday, September 23, 2011

Freight Trucks Monitored for Bottleneck Study

GPS Technology Used to Gather Data for Infrastructure Research
Shipping News Feature

US – Everybody, particularly professional freight truck drivers, complain about the regular delays caused by bottlenecks, often the constant lobbying will result in an infrastructure change but often not for many years. In Britain, for example, only regular travellers and local residents can understand the misery of driving for many years on the A3 through Hindhead before the recent road works resolved the problem completely. In a time of austerity how can the authorities differentiate between a standard trucker’s moan and a case where there are real costs to industry, logistics and the environment?

In the US an annual study by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) working alongside the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Freight Management and Operations has just been completed having closely examined the situation at 250 bottleneck black spots and a variety of other locations and the results have now been published.

 In order to deflect criticism the ATRI has also published the methodology used to rank the areas knowing that any such examination is liable to come under close public scrutiny, especially by members of the freight and logistics community whom it costs so much money. The study looks at a diverse range of highway locations, principally urban interchanges in a bid to allow public stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding transport policy and to keep private bodies aware of the situation.

To fully understand the methodology one would need to study the original .pdf but to précis it took GPS technology to look at the throughput of freight trucks calculating speed and cross referencing with date and time whilst factoring in things such as road works. Studies covered full 24 hour periods and calculated for each block of time a ‘vehicle population by hour’ which when multiplied by a Free Flow speed (55mph) less the average speed of the trucks resulted in a ‘score’ which ATRI called the ‘hourly freight congestion value.’

The full table of results is available HERE and each highway point mentioned can be examined in more detail simply by the use of a cursor.

Photo: Not for the first time in the yearly study Chicago features prominently in the worst ratings.