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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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April 2, 2014

Updating the GO TO 2040 Implementation Action Areas

The GO TO 2040 update process has allowed CMAP to enhance the alignment of plan recommendations with responsible parties to reflect progress and other variables. Read More About Updating the GO TO 2040 Implementation Action Areas
March 18, 2014

White House Releases FY 2015 Budget Proposal

A CMAP Policy Update looks at regional and national implications of the Obama Administration's proposed 3.9 trillion budget for federal fiscal year 2015. Read More About White House Releases FY 2015 Budget Proposal
February 28, 2014

Obama Administration Releases Vision for Reauthorization Bill, Announces TIGER VI

On February 26, 2014, President Obama outlined the Administration's vision for a four-year, $302 billion transportation reauthorization bill.  He also announced the sixth round of the... Read More About Obama Administration Releases Vision for Reauthorization Bill, Announces TIGER VI
February 27, 2014

Freight Testimony

At the invitation of Congressman Bill Lipinski, CMAP Board chairman Gerald Bennett testified yesterday at a special House of Representatives hearing on the importance of freight. Read More About Freight Testimony
January 31, 2014

Springfield Update on State of the State Address and CMAP 2014 Legislative Agenda and Framework

Legislators convened in Springfield for the second spring session of the 98 th Illinois General Assembly on January 28, 2014.  This Springfield Update discusses the Governor's State of the... Read More About Springfield Update on State of the State Address and CMAP 2014 Legislative Agenda and Framework
January 21, 2014

Congress Releases Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY14

On January 17, 2014, the President signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, which ends September 30, 2014. Combining 12 separate appropriations bills, the... Read More About Congress Releases Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY14
December 14, 2013

CMAP Guiding Principles for the Draft Primary Freight Network

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) recently released the draft Primary Freight Network (PFN) in the Federal Register. As mentioned in a previous  Policy Update ,... Read More About CMAP Guiding Principles for the Draft Primary Freight Network
November 21, 2013

U.S. DOT Releases Draft Primary Freight Network

On November 19, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) released the draft Primary Freight Network (PFN) in the Federal Register.  The maps and tables are also available on... Read More About U.S. DOT Releases Draft Primary Freight Network
October 30, 2013

House Freight Panel Recommends Increased Investment, Multimodal Perspective

On October 29, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Panel on 21 st Century Freight Transportation released its findings and recommendations... Read More About House Freight Panel Recommends Increased Investment, Multimodal Perspective
September 30, 2013

Freight User Fee Legislation Introduced

On September 17, 2013, the Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21 st Century was introduced in the U.S. Senate.  The bill would abolish the current Harbor Maintenance Tax ( HMT ), which... Read More About Freight User Fee Legislation Introduced
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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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