The Texas DOT is developing a freight mobility plan (TFMP) in 2013-2014 in compliance with the MAP-21 requirements. Texas has the 14th largest economy in the world, and freight movement is critical to its economy. Modal forecasts were made for the TFMP on the highway, rail, air, water, pipeline modes as well as for border crossings and special generators. The forecasts use several sources of data including the TRANSEARCH database, the Texas statewide model (TX SAMv3), TX- North American Freight Flow Model, ATRI Truck Data, Border Crossing Data and HPMS.

The project team developed a forecast framework that took advantage of the numerous data sources along with NCHRP 765 post processing techniques. Freight forecasts were made for a base year of 2010 and a future year of 2040. Forecasts were made at the statewide level – primarily using TRANSEARCH – and at detailed corridor section levels.

Each mode was analyzed separately. The processing steps for the highway mode, which currently carries the majority of the freight tonnage, involved aggregation of model links to sections for each primary freight system corridor; populating the framework spreadsheet; post processing the 2010 data and forecasting to 2040; aggregation/disaggregation of results and level of service (LOS) determinations.

The forecasting framework used a number of restraints on growth rates and used some interesting techniques for developing highway capacity due to starting with daily traffic assignments. The Texas statewide model was also used as a starting basis for rail volumes which went through a similar adjustment process to the highway mode.

A deficiency analysis was performed using the 2040 forecasts and LOS performance measures. The LOS measures developed for air, water, pipelines and special generators were unique to this study and hopefully serve as a good starting point for developing performance measures for those modes. The deficiency analysis showed that Texas has rebounded quickly from the economic downturn and that significant investment is needed in all modes.