FAU leads a consortium of experts from leading universities across the nation who have expertise in freight transportation, network modeling, sustainability, and intelligent transportation systems. The institute will help to promote smart cities, improve multimodal connections, system integration and security, data modeling, and analytical tools to optimize freight movements that improve efficiency. The institute also will have a significant educational impact through integrated education and outreach components.

As the nation continues to grow so will the demand for freight transport; estimated to reach 25 billion tons/$37 trillion (from 18.1 billion tons/$19.2 trillion in 2015) by 2045. Coastal areas include 14 of the 20 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States. For goods, valued in excess of 2.25 trillion USD, trucks are the most common mode used to move between these international gateways and island locations. This trend is expected to continue with tonnage of international trade forecast to grow at a rate of 3.4 percent per year between 2007 and 2040. Unfortunately, this increase is mirrored with an increase in truck and rail crashes as well as congestion since state DOTs are increasingly shifting from capacity increases to road maintenance.

The proposed Freight Mobility Research Institute (FMRI) mission is to address critical issues affecting the planning, design, operation, and safety of the nation’s intermodal freight transportation system, in order to strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness. Efficient and safe freight movement is inextricably linked to the economic vitality of a local area, state, region and beyond. In consultation with stakeholders, as well as USDOT’s strategic priorities, as expressed in FAST Act Improving Mobility of People and Goods priority and the known exclusive topic areas established by the Secretary of Transportation, we will focus on research and development that improves freight mobility through information technology, freight network modelling and operations, intermodal logistics, as well as freight and supply chain sustainability to promote smart cities, improve multimodal connections, systems integration and security, data modeling and analytical tools to optimize freight movements and improve efficiency. Also, advance regional planning and setting of transportation priorities that deliver higher practice and economic growth and enhance productivity. These research efforts will (i) support maintenance and improvement of mobility in the face of growing traffic and shrinking resources; (ii) develop methodologies that link the performance of the U.S. freight transportation system; (iii) increase border-crossing efficiency while maintaining security and resilience: and (iv) improve air quality to advance personal health as well as translate into reduced energy consumption, reduce congestion, and cooperative performance improvement.

We have assembled top expertise on freight transportation, network modeling, sustainability, and ITS, representing leading universities across the nation with deep connections to local, state, and regional communities. Each of these universities has an established transportation research center/lab with top quality faculty conducting leading edge research. We are motivated to embrace innovative research projects, train the current and future transportation leaders and workforce, and engage with the industry to enhance collaboration between agencies by improving efficiency and safety, sustainably reduce traffic congestion, and develop standards to ensure interoperability today and in the future. At the same time, the center will have a significant educational impact. The consortium members have a successful history of enhancing interdisciplinary learning opportunities and engaging underrepresented groups. In the proposed center, this commitment will be continued and improved via integrated education and outreach components that leverage ongoing activities.