The Value of Freight

Freight Modes

Land Use Conflicts


"...if you wear it, eat it, drink it, drive it, or talk or text on it, it came by freight..."

—Les Findeisen, Legislative Affairs Director for the Texas Trucking Association

Freight Land Use Conflicts

Any time that competing (and often, incompatible) land uses exist in proximity to one another there is the likelihood of these uses somehow interfering with each other. This concept is closely tied to the economic concept of externality, where one individual’s actions inflict costs (either monetary costs, physical costs, or emotional costs) on others.

Among the major conflicts with non-freight interests (e.g., residential or commercial developments) have with freight operations are:

  • Air pollution
  • Light pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Effects of vibration
  • Safety issues
  • Congestion

Some conflicts, such as noise, light, and vibration are common to all of the primary freight modes. Other conflicts are more specific to particular modes. For example, the potential for dangerous trespass tends to be specific to railroads.

From the perspective of freight interests, barriers to the efficient operation of freight activities in many ways are the corollary of conflicting land uses. Examples of barriers include:

  • Speed restrictions
  • Limitations on hours of operation
  • Height and clearance impacts
  • Size and weight limitations
  • Corridor design impacts
  • Difficulty of dredging operations and disposal of dredged material

Some of these barriers can be mode-specific (e.g., highway and road design impacts on trucking activities or dredging impacts on waterway transportation), while other barriers may be more general across modes (e.g., limitations on hours of operation). Barriers not only affect freight activities along particular corridors and facilities, but they may also affect route choices and the ability to access freight and manufacturing facilities. For example, if particular roads are designed with turning radii that are too tight, particular types of trucks may not be able to use these routes or access facilities that use these roads.

Resolution of conflicting land uses and minimization of barriers to the efficient provision of freight transportation yield significant benefits to both producers and consumers. The sources of encroachment of freight facilities are corridors have been summarized in a series of Conflicts and Barriers Matrices. The research conducted for NCRRP 24 also produced a series of case studies to illustrate many of these issues. Issues were identified during the review of these case studies: