Federal Funding Launches Regional Freight Transportation Center

PULLMAN, Wash. — Economists and engineers at Washington State University, the University of Washington and North Dakota State University are forming a regional freight transportation center to study issues that transcend state borders, thanks to $500,000 just received from the Federal Highway Administration.

“As we look to combining the expertise at three different universities, I think we can get a handle on the regional movement and problems that exist in the regional movement of freight,” said Ken Casavant, transportation economist in the WSU School of Economic Sciences.

“Many of the states do a good job of tracing and evaluating the freight movements within their borders,” Casavant said, “but problems do not magically stop at the state line.”

“Capacity problems in North Dakota can affect our movements through the port of Seattle. If we can’t modify the surges that occur in different parts of the supply chain and understand how they affect the overall supply chain, we won’t get the efficient movement that we need to compete in the international market.”

The Northern Plains-Pacific Northwest Center for Freight Mobility will focus research and outreach to improve rail, truck and barge traffic in a region stretching from Chicago to Seattle across the northern tier of western states. The center will have its headquarters at North Dakota State University.

“This project is a strong link in a chain that will connect Washington state businesses and products to the rest of the nation and the world,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “It will help our farmers and businesses compete in the global economy and keep Washingtonians working and moving.”

Initially, the center will develop a profile of the region’s freight infrastructure and economic traffic and survey state transportation departments to identify critical issues.

Casavant is collaborating on the project with Nancy Nihan, director of TransNow at the University of Washington, and Gene Griffin, director of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University.

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