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Freight

As the nation's freight hub, metropolitan Chicago has significant economic opportunities and responsibilities. Simply put, our region is the preeminent freight hub in North America. A quarter of all freight in the nation originates, terminates, or passes through metropolitan Chicago, which is home to six of the seven Class I railroads, seven interstate highways, one of the world's busiest airports, and the only connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems.

Freight Updates

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July 25, 2014

New Recommendations for National Strategic Freight Plan

In June 2014, the National Freight Advisory Committee submitted a report on improving the freight system to U.S. DOT. Read More About New Recommendations for National Strategic Freight Plan
July 22, 2014

Improved GO TO 2040 Case Study Library

Completed Local Technical Assistance projects and GO TO 2040-related work are highlighted in a new interactive map. Read More About Improved GO TO 2040 Case Study Library
July 21, 2014

Clusters Indicators Highlight Importance of Freight, Manufacturing in Region

On July 21, CMAP released data and analysis on clusters indicators – intermodal lifts, manufacturing and freight cluster employment and industry location quotients, and manufacturing exports. Read More About Clusters Indicators Highlight Importance of Freight, Manufacturing in Region
July 15, 2014

Community planning proposals

CMAP received 104 applications were submitted by 77 different applicants to the LTA program. Read More About Community planning proposals
July 10, 2014

U.S. House Committee Marks Up Transportation Bill Extension

The Highway and Transportation Funding Act would provide $10.9 billion in transfers to the Highway Trust Fund. Read More About U.S. House Committee Marks Up Transportation Bill Extension
June 26, 2014

Senate Finance Committee Weighs Short-Term MAP-21 Extension

The Preserving America's Transit and Highways Act (PATH) of 2014 would extend the nation's highway and transit programs through December 31, 2014. Read More About Senate Finance Committee Weighs Short-Term MAP-21 Extension
June 13, 2014

Draft GO TO 2040 plan update available for public comment through August 1, 2014

Submit comments on-line and attend open house meetings throughout the region for the draft GO TO 2040 plan update and FFY 2014-19 Transportation Improvement Program. Read More About Draft GO TO 2040 plan update available for public comment through August 1, 2014
May 20, 2014

OECD Examines Factors Contributing to Regional Productivity

New analysis investigates the effect that local governance, human capital, and freight activity can have on the overall productivity of metropolitan regions. Read More About OECD Examines Factors Contributing to Regional Productivity
May 19, 2014

U.S. Senate Releases Text for Highway Reauthorization Bill

On May 12, 2014, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee released the text of the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act, its six-year, $265 billion highway bill. Read More About U.S. Senate Releases Text for Highway Reauthorization Bill
May 1, 2014

Obama Administration Releases Transportation Bill

On April 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) released legislative language for the GROW AMERICA Act. Read More About Obama Administration Releases Transportation Bill
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Related Activities

Regional Freight Leadership Task Force. CMAP is convening a regional task force to explore institutional and funding barriers affecting the freight system in northeastern Illinois. The Regional Freight Leadership Task Force will meet from October 2013 through May 2014 before producing a final report to the CMAP Board in June 2014. 

Freight Cluster Reports.  This infrastructure and volume of goods movement supports many jobs in the region, not only in transportation-related industries, but also in other industries such as manufacturing that directly rely on goods movement. Together, the larger freight cluster accounts for one in four jobs in the region.  Released in July 2012, CMAP's Freight Cluster Drill-Down report identifies key infrastructure, workforce, and innovation challenges and opportunities influencing future cluster growth and concludes with a set of regional strategies to better align resources and investments with the needs of the freight cluster.  In August 2013, CMAP published a follow-up report on the Freight-Manufacturing Nexus that examines how, due to the size and strength of metropolitan Chicago's freight cluster, the region is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the recent resurgence in U.S. manufacturing.

Freight Data and Resources.   CMAP maintains a collection of multimodal freight data and analysis for northeastern Illinois, including metrics of performance, volume, facility inventory, and more.

Freight Resources

GO TO 2040. The comprehensive plan's Regional Mobility chapter recommends that the region should create a more efficient freight system.  

Community Railroad Resources.  CMAP has collected useful information about the rail system in our communities, including issues of local safety and maintenance.

More About Freight

Freight has long been central to the development of metropolitan Chicago. Businesses have long utilized the region's transportation infrastructure as an economic advantage, first capitalizing on the region's geographic position at the nexus of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, then its unmatched connections between eastern and western railroads, and more recently its extensive highway network and global air connections.

Today the region is the preeminent transportation and logistics hub in North America. A quarter of all freight in the nation originates, terminates, or passes through metropolitan Chicago. The region's concentration in intermodal moves—i.e., freight shipped in a standardized container easily transferred between modes—is even more striking. About half of all intermodal movements in the country touch the Chicago metropolitan area. Indeed, metropolitan Chicago's intermodal facilities vie with Los Angeles as the largest container handler in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Metropolitan Chicago's impressive transportation performance helps to drive the regional economy. The freight industry directly employs truckers, rail workers, terminal workers, logistics providers, and others. Together, these interrelated industries account for 200,000 jobs and provide over $13 billion in personal income for the residents of northeastern Illinois. A greater proportion of metropolitan Chicago's employment falls in these freight industries compared to the national rate, and this specialization has grown over the past decade.

Freight supports jobs not only in transportation and logistics but also in freight-dependent industries such as manufacturing and wholesale trade. Indeed, one-quarter of all jobs in the regional economy are in industries directly tied to freight. These freight-dependent industries add over $115 billion to the regional economy each year.

The region must address serious funding and governance issues if it is to maintain the vitality of its freight system. The Chicago area is routinely listed as having some of the worst highway congestion in the nation, costing billions of dollars annually in terms of wasted time and fuel. Furthermore, the region's rail system is beset by congestion, with numerous heavily-used freight lines crossing each other at grade and being used for commuter and intercity passenger services. Significant investments will be needed to bring the freight system to a state of good repair, as well as expand capacity to meet current and future demand. However, traditional revenue sources to support public investments in transportation have failed to keep pace with needs.

Northeastern Illinois contains seven counties, 284 municipalities, and 123 townships. Those general purpose units of government, along with the state, have jurisdiction over the highway network. Through that authority, they regulate truck routes, parking, and delivery restrictions, determine size and weight restrictions, and impose fees. Further, they zone to control and regulate land uses. While these decisions may reflect local preferences, they do not always aggregate to a coherent whole, and the multiplicity of local regulations imposes a burden on the freight system.

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