Freight guidance for planning studies

Use this guidance to incorporate freight consideration in the planning study development.

Freight movement is essential to the economic competitiveness and vitality of communities and state. Incorporating considerations of freight needs and issues is important to ensure the efficient, safe and reliable movement of freight throughout Washington.

Before you start

Review the 2022 Washington State Freight System Plan for an overview of Washington’s freight transportation system, major trends and issues relevant to freight, and investments in freight.

Freight considerations to include in your study

Freight context

Determine the freight context of the planning study and to what degree it is important for freight movement:

  • Does the study area include freight generators? These are facilities that ship or receive a large volume of truck traffic. Examples include ports, intermodal facilities, warehouses and distribution centers, and manufacturing centers.
  • Does the study area include freight routes? Use Freight and Goods Transportation System designation to identify freight routes.
  • What is the current and future demand for freight? What are the major freight origins/destinations in the study area and what is the current truck volume on the corridor? How the freight demand and activities are likely to grow in the future?

Assess freight needs and issues

The nature of freight transportation-related needs and issues is often highly context-sensitive. Use this list of common freight needs and issues to assess which ones are relevant or important to your study area and need further analysis. Seek inputs from freight partners and stakeholders to validate needs/issues.

Freight safety

The freight traffic shares infrastructure and space with other transportation users. Sometimes, this leads to modal conflict, where one transportation mode interferes with another mode’s mobility or safety.

Road/rail at-grade crossings
Conflicts with other modes (such as active transportation users)
Truck parking shortage
  • Result in trucks parking in undesignated spaces such as highway ramps, or residential streets and a higher rate of parked truck collisions.
  • Appendix H of the State Freight System Plan identifies truck parking shortage hotspots.

Freight mobility

Congestion and bottlenecks
First/last mile access (to port or other freight facilities)
Roadway limitations impacting trucks
  • Examples include roadway geometrics, narrow lanes, tight curves, steep grades.

Environmental and community impacts

Negative impacts on communities could come from the co-location of heavy freight routes with residential areas, or the placement of freight-related facilities (such as ports, factories and warehouses) in or adjacent to residential areas.

Concentrated diesel air pollution and local quality of life impacts
Curbside conflicts
  • Conflict between unloading or loading delivery vehicles with other uses of curb space on local streets in dense urban areas.

Engage freight stakeholders

Engaging freight stakeholders throughout the planning process is the best way to ensure that freight is adequately incorporated into decision making. Freight stakeholders generally preferred to be engaged as early as possible and will likely want to give input during development of vision, goals, need identification, and evaluation of solutions.

  • The FHWA’s PlanWorks platform provides in-depth guidance to determine where and how to engage freight stakeholders in long range transportation planning, programming, corridor planning, and environmental review.
  • Refer to “working with freight stakeholder” page under the FHWA guidance above to determine who are freight stakeholders and when to engage them.

Address freight needs and issues

Just as freight needs and issues are context-dependent, so are the solutions to these needs and issues. Consider developing strategies or solutions that address the key issues identified through freight need assessment, as well as linking back to corridor vision/goals. The following resources can help you identify potential solutions to some of the challenges listed above:

Enjoy paid time off. 

Our employees earn paid vacation and sick leave every month, as well as 12 paid holidays per year.

Work in a modern environment.

We offer telework options, an infant at work program, flexible work schedules and more.

Continue your learning journey.

Get tuition reimbursement for coursework or trainings related to your job or career ladder.