Agricultural Freight: Network Access and Issues

Agricultural Freight: Network Access and Issues

Principal Investigator: Dr. Julie Smith (Department of Animal Science)

Funding Agency: US DOT

Project Summary

The modeling framework and tools under development throughout Signature Project 1 focus on informing policy related to passenger transportation. Yet, the concept of evaluating transportation in light of environmental impacts and resiliency to disruption applies equally well to freight transportation. In a state where agriculture is one of the largest sectors of the economy, contributing about a half billion dollars in gross receipts annually (USDA ERS, 2006), and is important for attracting tourists who bring another $20 million (USDA NASS, 2004) to the state each year, agricultural freight deserves attention. Because the majority of agricultural freight transportation in Chittenden County either originates or has destinations outside of the county, it is not appropriate to model within the closed-system model used for passenger transportation. However, by gaining a better understanding of agricultural freight networks within Vermont, modelers and planners will have a more complete picture of the transportation network under study. The issues related to agricultural freight, including potential impacts on road surface integrity, air and environmental quality need to be better understood before models can be extended or developed for this context.

This project will describe how milk moves from farms to first collection points or processing plants and analyze the robustness of the road networks carrying this agricultural freight. This information will be useful to public and private sector entities concerned with how transportation relates to sustainable agriculture.

Project Overview (PDF, March 2010)

Conference Presentations:

  • Critical Links Supporting Vermont’s Bulk Milk Transportation: Novel Application of Network Robustness Index,

    Smith, 89th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting Conference, January 2010,

    Washington, D.C.

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