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Public Roads - May/June 2005

May/June 2005
Issue No:
Vol. 68 No. 6
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Training Update

New Course on Freight Highlights Forecasting Techniques

The National Highway Institute (NHI)

Forecasting freight traffic requires an understanding of many factors, including economic trends, traffic distribution, decisions made by freight shippers, and the operational characteristics of specific freight carriers. In addition, freight forecasting involves different data sources and analytical tools than those used to forecast passenger travel. As congestion and the amount of freight moved on the Nation's highways increase, the transportation community is acknowledging the need to consider freight in the transportation planning process.

A new course offered by the National Highway Institute (NHI) provides an overview of freight forecasting and describes the techniques that planners can use to meet the needs of individual facilities, metropolitan areas, and even entire States. Uses of Multimodal Freight Forecasting in Transportation Planning (#139002A) is a 3-day course designed in collaboration with the Whatcom (County) Council of Governments in Washington State, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The instructors will demonstrate how transportation planners can use various forecasting methods to answer common questions related to freight movement and how to implement practices used by metropolitan and State transportation agencies.

NHI';s new course on freight forecasting helps transportation professionals understand the economic trends that influence shipping and traffic patterns so they can keep trucks like these moving efficiently on U.S. roadways.

The course is geared toward officials with State DOTs, metropolitan planning organizations, and port authorities who are involved in transportation planning and forecasting. Staff from Federal agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration, who assist State and local agencies in planning and funding freight transportation also may benefit from the class.

The new course will be offered at the request of hosting agencies. Instructors will teach the course primarily through face-to-face classroom lectures, coupled with interactive exercises and demonstrations of notable forecasting practices from State and local transportation agencies.

After completing the course, participants will have a better understanding of why freight forecasting is integral to the transportation planning process. In addition, participants will be able to discuss the roles of different freight transportation modes, the economic trends that influence freight growth, the role of intermodal terminals and their impacts on local traffic, and the impacts that freight has on forecasts for travel demand. Attendees also will be able to identify public and private sources of key freight data and understand the strengths and limitations of those data as they relate to forecasting and planning.

Although there are no official prerequisites for the course, NHI encourages participants to take the course Integrating Freight in the Transportation Planning Process (#139001A) first. For those unable to participate in the new 3-day course, the FHWA Resource Center Planning Team also offers a broad-based 30- to 60-minute seminar designed for all transportation decisionmakers. The seminar can be tailored to the needs of a State or region and may be used to educate elected officials and other stakeholders.

Available as of February 2005, Uses of Multimodal Freight Forecasting in Transportation Planning is one of several new courses being planned and offered as part of the FHWA Freight Professional Development and Transportation Planning Capacity Building Programs. FHWA created both programs to provide technical training to the freight transportation and planning workforce to broaden the knowledge base and develop new skills.

For information on the technical content of the course, contact Robert Gorman at 202–366–5001,, or Supin Yoder at
708–283–3554, For more information on hosting or attending the courses offered under these programs, visit the NHI Web site
at To schedule the new freight forecasting course or any other NHI course, contact Danielle Mathis-Lee at 703–235–0528 or