U.S. Highway Administration announces new technology tests

by Canadian Shipper

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded contracts for two operational tests that are designed to facilitate freight transportation and information processing.

One test, the asset and cargo visibility test, focuses on the transmission of information and the movement of container chassis in and out of a port terminal, and on improving the staging of both to have them available when needed, providing immediate maintenance information to motor carriers so as to reduce movements of unsafe chassis.

Another important aspect of this test, says the FHWA, is to demonstrate the “freight information highway” by providing freight and cargo information in a standard format and linking to a backbone information system for monitoring chassis movements and facilitating the pick-up and drop-off of containers in terminal yards.

The second test is a terminal dray operations test, which aims to improve the cross-town movement of freight within the Chicago terminal area that can take from three to five days. Data about the container will be forwarded from a West coast marine terminal to a rail terminal in Chicago. As trains are loaded at the Port of Tacoma, the information will be shared with Chicago terminal as well as with drayage operations. Trucks will be staged to pick up containers as soon as they are available for movement to another rail line or to an end destination customer.

Both tests aim to improve the processing of container chassis in a port, and to send improved information to state and local agencies to help improve their efforts to manage congestion.

The tests are a result of cooperative partnerships that have been formed between the public and private sectors through the Intermodal Freight Technology Working Group (IFTWG). Based on a recommendation from the first Intermodal Freight Technology workshop that was held in Reston, Virginia in 1998, the IFTWG was formed to examine how the application of technology could achieve increased efficiency and interoperability in transportation operations.

The newly awarded operational tests are the result of the IFTWG examining tracking and location technology requirements, testing emerging technology and attempting to establish the business case for the application of technology to improve transportation operations.

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