March 2011

LCV Training Triples (Source:

The National Transportation Research Center, Inc. (NTRCI) recently awarded a project to CFIRE that will evaluate the impact of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) on operational efficiency, freight flows, and traffic congestion (project U28). The research team, which includes CFIRE Director Teresa Adams, Deputy Director Jason Bittner, and researcher Bob Gollnik, is currently outlining major LCV issues and parameters and how their potential adoption will impact private and public agencies. The team is using the US DOT’s strategic goals—safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, livable communities, and environmental sustainability—to provide structure for their research.

Longer combination vehicles raise issues of safety. According to the current research, there is no clear indication that LCVs will be more or less safe than standard trucks. LCVs have poorer handling characteristics than standard trucks, which could result in a greater risk of collision. However, the operation of LCVs will also likely reduce the number of trucks on the road, which decreases the opportunities for accidents and crashes. The monitoring programs in states where LCVs are permitted do not at present provide statistically reliable estimates of LCV travel.

The cost of reinforcing bridges to support the higher weight of LCVs affects the state of good repair of roadways open to these vehicles. LCVs can also damage roadways because they have larger off-tracking on curves compared to standard tractor-trailers, and because roadways are designed for standard vehicles and trucks. LCVs may also cause additional pavement damage, although this is more of a weight-per-axle issue rather than a total weight issue; LCVs may cause either more or less pavement damage depending on their weight and axle configuration.

LCVs carry more cargo per truck, providing obvious economic benefits. A towing two loads requires the labor of only one driver instead of two, and uses less gas than two separate truck shipments. LCVs may also lower the number of trucks on the road, decreasing congestion, which in turn would have a positive economic impact. However, some analysts theorize that the lowered costs of transportation resulting from the use of LCVs may shift freight from rail to the highway system, which could add to congestion and cause a negative impact on the economy.

Because LCVs can carry up to twice the cargo per truck, the fuel used per unit of cargo could drop considerably. Using less fuel reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants, which supports both livable communities and environmental sustainability. However, because some cargo may be shifted from rail to trucks, these positive benefits may be limited. Fuel efficiency may also be limited if a LCV has to make more stops or spend more time idling. The costs and benefits of LCV use for livability and environmental sustainability will require further study.

States that Allow Longer Combination Vehicles (Source: US Department of Energy)

The research team will use two tools to evaluate the impact of longer combination vehicles in each of these categories: Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) analysis, and Benefit-Cost Analysis (CBA). The AHP will quantify the relative importance of each factor in the policy debate on LCVs by electronically surveying public and private sector professionals and asking them to rank preferences across a broad number of categories. The team will then combine AHP results with literature review data to devise a CBA spreadsheet template that correlates with the US DOT strategic goals and estimates the net social benefits (or costs) of LCV operations.

The results of this project will provide policy makers with a number decision-making tools:

  1. Measures and thresholds for LCV operational productivity
  2. An assessment of safety implications for LCV operations
  3. An estimate of the impact of LCVs on current and projected truck highway miles
  4. Monetized environmental impacts
  5. Monetized infrastructure impacts

For more information on the project, visit

The 4th METRANS National Urban Freight Conference is scheduled for October 12-14, 2011 at Hyatt Regency Long Beach in Long Beach, California.

Abstracts are due by May 31, 2011. See the Call for Abstracts for more information.

We hope you will consider participating in this event where we examine the impacts of goods movement and international trade in metropolitan areas.

Additional information about the conference is available on the METRANS website at

Call for Papers: STPA Student Paper Competition

March 28, 2011

STPA invites undergraduate and graduate students who have written research papers related to transportation policy and administration during calendar year 2010 to submit their papers for consideration. Papers should be prepared according to a standard style such as APA. They should be between 15 and 25 pages in length and include citations and references. The […]

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The Economic Impact of Traffic Congestion on Truck-borne Freight

March 24, 2011

The 2010 Urban Mobility Report, the most accurate picture of traffic congestion in 439 US urban areas, now includes information about truck delay and the economic impact of congestion specific to trucking. This work was done under the auspices of the Development of an Areawide Estimate of Truck Freight Value in the Urban Mobility Report […]

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Nanoporous Thin-Film Additives for Improving Pre-Cast Concrete

March 23, 2011

Studies show the advantages of using precast slabs in construction of bridges, but there are still problems and limitations related with connecting precast concrete units. The existing grouted joints often create a precracked condition due to low grout bond adherence with the hardened concrete and grout shrinkage. Failures lead to the development of leaking, freeze-thaw […]

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Senior Freight Planner – CMAP

March 15, 2011

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Chicago, Illinois The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is seeking to hire a Senior Freight Planner. The Freight Planner will primarily perform the duties necessary to advance the freight system recommendations of the GO TO 2040 plan, including data analysis, policy analysis, and coalition building with regional, state, and […]

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2011 National SBIR/STTR Spring Conference

March 14, 2011

Wisconsin SBIR is hosting the 2011 National SBIB/STTR Spring Conference on April 10-13, 2011 at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin. At this conference you will learn about key facets of the federal SBIR/STTR (Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer) programs, and how the programs fit within the innovation ecosystem. For more information and […]

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