Every day, people stop by a store to pick up what they need. They order products online that are delivered to their doorstep. Virtually every business and household depend on freight delivery for shipping and receiving goods – in many cases multiple times a day. The simplicity of purchasing products masks the details of a complicated system that permits and sustains such activity. Freight transportation and goods movement involves a complex and dynamic network of logistics and supply chains.
Freight transportation drives the economy. Tons of goods are moved every day in the Tampa Bay region by trucks, airplanes, trains, ships and pipelines. Some of these goods are consumed locally, while others are processed and shipped to other states and countries. As the Tampa Bay urbanized area continues to grow, it will be increasingly important to provide an efficient freight transportation network to meet the demands of an expanding and globally competitive economy. Innovations in technology will continue to influence how we live, work, play, shop and travel. However, one thing will undoubtedly remain constant, especially in the short term – effective goods movement systems will sustain and form the foundation for flourishing economies, vibrant urban areas and growing regions.
The different travel modes within the freight transportation network need to be integrated and interconnected with one another to efficiently transport goods to destinations in a timely manner. This network also needs to serve broader functions of moving people to ensure that residents and visitors can easily reach their daily destinations by varied modes of travel. The region must coordinate freight planning with other efforts to support economic growth, while reducing negative impacts on communities and the environment.
Goods movement is increasingly important in the consumer economy and an essential element of regions seeking a high quality of life. But freight transportation presents an increasingly difficult challenge on several fronts – both for the communities within the Tampa Bay region who want to optimize the accessibility, mobility and safety of their roadways for all users, and for the shippers and carriers, who want to minimize time and logistics costs without adversely affecting customer service.
The capacity of the region’s transportation system has not kept pace with population growth. The resulting congestion has extended travel and transport time and created unpredictability for passengers and freight carriers. Delays in freight movement have huge economic impacts to productivity, as discussed in this White Paper. As the amount of freight moving through Tampa Bay and Florida increases, it will become increasingly important to maintain an adequate freight network capable of handling these increased traffic volumes.
FDOT District Seven is continually working to evaluate and improve all aspects of the freight system – considering changing conditions at the local, regional and global levels that affect capacity, operation, maintenance, safety and sustainability needs. The Tampa Bay Regional Strategic Freight Plan provides a framework and implementation strategy for improved freight mobility and operations within Tampa Bay.