Improving Freight Transportation Resilience in Response to Supply Chain Disruptions

Transportation supply chains are crucial to the nation. Over the past decade, supply chain disruptions and resiliency planning have become an essential component of freight transportation planning and operations. NCHRP Report 732: Methodologies to Estimate the Economic Impacts of Disruptions to the Goods Movement System, summarizes the criticality of supply chain disruptions: goods must continue to move even when one or more regions, major facilities, and/or freight modes become impaired by a disruption. The case study of Superstorm Sandy in NCFRP Report 30: Making U.S. Ports Resilient as Part of Extended Intermodal Supply Chains, identified that when key elements of the goods movement system are disrupted, the goods then surge through the operational alternatives. The case study illustrated that an unanticipated surge can overwhelm the remaining functional elements of the freight system, disrupting facilities and “business as usual.” Even when the disruptive event is known in advance, such as in the case of the 2010-11 Columbia River Basin closures, the diversion of goods anticipated to be moving via alternative modes or replaced from alternative sources prove challenging to shippers and other transportation modes. Humanitarian relief efforts and military surges are also generally coordinated events that receive priority handling with costs being less of an issue, but they may still have unanticipated effects. The issues facing the public sector when significant cargo delays or diversions occur can be profound. Agencies must gauge the potential impact of adverse events on their transportation system, economy, and community, and resources necessary to devote to preventive and remedial actions, even though the emergency could be thousands of miles away. Increasing temporary or short-term cargo-handling capacity may involve a combination of regulatory, informational, and physical infrastructure actions, as well as coordination across jurisdictional boundaries and between transportation providers and their customers. New research and the development of guidance are critical to advancing business continuity and supply chain resilience in response to disruptions. The objective of this research is to improve freight transportation system resilience by developing guidance for stakeholders to mitigate and adapt to logistical disruptions resulting from regional, multi-regional, or national adverse events. The research should build upon previous or current work on the built environment. The intended audience should include state freight advisory councils and other coordinating bodies. The research should address a broad range of issues to improve freight transportation resiliency such as, but not limited to, the following: (1) Assessing research, practices, and innovative approaches in the United States and other countries that complement the research objective; (2) Developing strategies to build relationships (i.e., social capital) that result in effective communication, coordination, and cooperation among affected parties; (3) Identifying factors affecting resiliency (e.g., quick response, performance objectives, laws and regulations, institutional relationships, costs, communications, collaboration, infrastructure, human factors, and collateral impacts); (4) Analyzing potential mitigation measures (e.g., cargo diversion, stockpiling, and labor agreements); (5) Characterizing spatial and temporal scale considerations such as emergency planning and response timeframe considerations (e.g., hurricane versus earthquake); (6) Prioritizing response activities by cargo types, recipients, and suppliers; and (7) Identifying potential barriers and gaps (e.g., political boundaries, authorities, ownership, modal competition and connectivity, and social and environmental constraints).


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $600000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 50

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Freight Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Rogers, William

  • Performing Organizations:

    WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

    Albuquerque, New Mexico  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Meyer, Michael

  • Start Date: 20160719
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180719
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40432

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01581057
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 50
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 21 2015 1:00AM