As Central Florida’s population grows and the demand for goods and services increases, efficient, cost-effective freight movement becomes more critical. Everything we buy – clothing, groceries, furniture, construction supplies and more – arrives as freight. Well thought-out freight planning improves safety, economic competitiveness, air quality, and traffic flow, resulting in a thriving economy. The Central Florida Regional Freight Mobility Study sets the foundation for fully integrating freight into the long range planning process.
ASSESSING FREIGHT NEEDS
To get a better grasp of freight needs for the year 2040, we first had to understand the current situation. Planning began with an assessment of the types of goods coming to and through the region, where they come from, and how freight moves. This identified freight deficiencies and opportunities in the transportation system.
Results showed that of the more than 200 million tons of freight flowing throughout our region each year, about 95% of our goods move by truck, with the remaining 5% moving by rail, sea, and air. The freight needs assessment revealed three areas where opportunities for improvement exist: 1) capacity and congestion; 2) community impacts, including air quality and safety; and 3) institutional and regulatory bottlenecks.
Addressing current and future freight needs requires complex solutions in these areas:
- Infrastructure: Investments in the physical transportation system, such as building new facilities (roads, rails, ports), reconstructing existing ones, or maintaining the current system get the most out of it.
- Operational: Solutions that focus on improving efficiency and flow of the existing system, including synchronizing traffic signals, improving signage, or providing real-time traffic data to dispatchers and drivers.
- Institutional: Solutions focusing on policies, regulations, and governance issues at the regional, state, and federal levels.
PLANNING FOR FREIGHT GROWTH
Preparing for freight growth will put Central Florida in a position to prosper economically. By 2040, freight demand is expected to grow between 35% and 61%. This growth will generate jobs and income. For every 1 million tons of freight moved in Central Florida, 155 direct transportation jobs and $7 million in direct income are created. Check out the freight mobility technical report from our 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan to learn more about freight improvements coming to the region.