Commodity Flow Data for Freight Network Infrastructure Planning

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  03/01/2023


Minnesota’s economy is dependent on the safe and efficient transport of freight, whether by truck, train, boat, airplane or pipeline. The state’s transportation network provides the physical framework for this commerce. MnDOT needs accurate data on the type, destination and quantity of cargo that is being transported to ensure the infrastructure’s capacity is sufficient to handle freight needs. Current freight data sets are limited, however, in the extent and specificity of information. New research will help to fill these gaps, ensure supply chain disruptions are minimized and help MnDOT plan better freight transportation investments. Researchers analyzed the freight data landscape across the United States, including the variety of public and private databases, efforts to model freight flow and other state practices. They explored commonly used public and proprietary databases and several software and modeling tools, identifying advantages and weaknesses of each. A survey and nine in-depth case studies led to a baseline of existing freight data resources, recommendations for generating and collecting freight data, and an understanding of freight data needs across the state. This project also informed MnDOT’s plan to develop a tool that will lead to an efficient multimodal network for moving goods around the state and lowering supply chain costs.

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