July 2014

While demands for stronger roads to accommodate Oversize/Overweight (OSOW) trucks have gradually risen, the permit system for these loads has not had a benefit-cost assessment. As more state DOTs report freight prioritization as an agency goal, the importance of economically efficient transportation continues to rise. Trucking is the preferred, and often only, means to transport OSOW loads. In nearly all states, however, permit fees and costs associated with processing OSOW permits are unrelated to the actual costs of providing such services.

A framework for analyzing the existing fee structures and incentives is given in the Aligning Oversize and Overweight Truck (OSOW) Permit Fees and Policies with Agency Costs (CFIRE 03-17) project, led by CFIRE researchers. This project consisted of research into the current OSOW situation, both with respect to industry trends and permit systems, as well as research into the importance of OSOW loads to the economy.

Industrial growth has introduced a rise in OSOW loads: Wisconsin, for example, is quickly becoming a lead in forest product manufacturing, and both the equipment and raw materials are usually hauled by OSOW trucks. These businesses face a wide variety of permit structures in each state, varying in both time to obtain permits, which can take up to 8 weeks, and cost to obtain permits, which can vary from $10 to over $1700.

In the Midwest especially, several large industries including agriculture and energy are dependent on OSOW loads for operation, including the transportation of farm equipment and windmill blades. Ohio is one of the few states to have compared the economic benefits of these industries to the DOT costs incurred by higher maintenance and faster replacement of roads and bridges that support OSOW trucks. Many other states in this analysis, such as Iowa, do not coordinate their fee systems with economic data. Iowa has not raised its permit cost from $10 for more than 30 years.

This project concludes that in most cases permit fees are not balanced with their costs to infrastructure. Further research will place emphasis on determining a per-transaction cost of issuing OSOW permits.

For more information about this project and to read the final report, visit the CFIRE 03-17 project page.

The resilience of highways and interstates is critical to the Wisconsin economy, but there are is no single way to measure the resilience of a highway corridor. Resilience is made up of several factors, including robustness, redundancy, rapidity of recovery, and resourcefulness. Some of these factors are difficult to quantify meaningfully, while others can be completely subjective.

In the Freight Corridor Performance in the Mississippi Valley Region (CFIRE 03-23) project, CFIRE Executive Director Teresa Adams used data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Truck Research Institute (ATRI) to provide meaningful data for the study of freight corridor resiliency. Two measures were proposed as being capable of measurement: robustness and rapidity of recovery. These factors were measured by angles formed from the decline and recovery of average speed following an incident on the corridor in question.

Example resiliency triangle showcasing the impact of a weather event on traffic speed

The resilience of I-90/94, which stretches from Minneapolis to Chicago through Wisconsin, was tested during a blizzard in February, 2008. This event, which caused large delays on I-90/94, generated data for ATRI which was then used to estimate average truck speed on intercity segments. These speeds showed speed decline and recovery caused by the weather, which in return could be used to calculate the highway’s rapidity and robustness.

Demonstration of the robustness and rapidity triangles, showing the effect of the 2008 blizzard on average speeds from Mauston to Portage

Similar truck data from the floods of June 2008  was also analyzed, with similar patterns of decline and recovery. These two incidents demonstrated the usefulness of ATRI truck speed data for quantifying resilience measures of highways, such as rapidity of recovery and robustness.

This project aimed to show the potential for data-driven analysis of resilience measurements. Two out of four resilience measures were quantified using real world data from ATRI and the FHWA, and used to demonstrate the effects dangerous weather events had on an interstate highway. Future research will aim to set thresholds in these measures that will help maintain reliable service on critical infrastructure in emergencies or disasters.

To learn more about this project and to read the final report, visit the CFIRE 03-23 project page.

GPS Devices Affixed to UP Truckers to Identify Potential Increases in Efficiency

July 25, 2014

Forest products such as logs and wood chips are high-volume, high-weight, and low-value; transportation represents as much as 50 percent of their final cost. As a result, even minor inefficiencies such as truck routing can severely cut profit margins. In addition, truckers face bottlenecks due to the specialized equipment needed for loading and unloading forest […]

Read the full article →

Use of Alternative Distribution Networks in Regional Food Supply Chains

July 24, 2014

The ability of small producers in a regional food system to survive market changes relies on their knowledge of distribution costs and benefits. Distribution methods can vary from roadside stands to long-distance shipments to urban centers, but shifting product from one mode of distribution to another poses financial risks to farmers. One of the goals […]

Read the full article →

Simulation to Determine Viability of Urban Consolidation Centers

July 23, 2014

Upon entering an urban area, such as the final destination for a delivery, long-haul trucks face a spike in inefficiency caused by both increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and additional fuel use. One suggested strategy for mitigating the effects of the final mile problem (also known as the last mile problem) is the use of […]

Read the full article →

Costs of Increased Loads on Wisconsin Railways Tested

July 11, 2014

Up to 50 percent of the sand used for the fracking process in the United States is sourced from Wisconsin. Frac sand is both heavy and has the potential to clog or foul the ballast supporting rail lines. These two effects add maintenance costs, and understanding them is critical to making decisions on how to […]

Read the full article →

The Challenges of Import Safety

July 9, 2014

As the global market expands, concern over the safety of imports continues to rise. Many products are the result of world-spanning logistics that cross dozens of borders. Managing Challenges of Import Safety in a Global Market (CFIRE 03-02), a project led by CFIRE affiliate researcher Vicki Bier, brought together academics, regulators, and industry professionals to […]

Read the full article →