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Portland Bureau of Transportation

We keep Portland moving

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Fact Sheet: Portland Freight Master Plan

Portland – A Major West Coast Freight Hub 

  • The Portland area has historically been a center of trade and commerce in the Pacific Northwest and, because of its connections to the interstate highway network, marine and rail terminals and an international airport, has grown into the fourth largest freight hub for domestic and international trade on the west coast; behind the Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco regions. 
  • Portland’s freight hub is characterized by its 12,500 acres of industrial land surrounding the Portland Harbor and the Portland International Airport, which accommodates most of the region’s heavy industrial activities - marine terminals, rail yards, large manufacturing and warehousing. 

Freight Moves Portland’s Economy

  • Portland’s economy is far more dependent on freight movement than most other US cities.  The Portland region has the third highest percentage of total employment in the distribution and logistics sectors in the U.S., comprising 11% of the region’s workforce.  According to the Oregon Department of Employment, one out of nine jobs in the Portland area are in the transportation sectors.
  • Between 1980 and 2000, investments in transportation have contributed to a 37% increase in industrial jobs in the Portland region, compared to the national rate of only 12%.  This makes continued investments in our transportation system vital to maintaining a health regional economy. 

Why a Freight Master Plan?

  • The City of Portland completed its first Transportation System Plan (TSP) in 2002.  During this process, the City recognized the need to better understand freight-related issues in order to:
  • -Ensure Portland’s transportation network can support the projected increased demand for freight movement.
  • -Balance freight mobility needs with community impacts and other transportation modes (bicycle, pedestrian, transit, auto).
  • -Take advantage of economic opportunities and changes in the global economy by capitalizing on Portland’s inherent geographic advantage and existing multimodal freight transportation system (marine, rail, air, highway, pipeline).
  • Based on the 2002 Port of Portland Commodity Flow Forecast, demand for freight tonnage into, out of, and within the Portland area will grow from 260 million tons with a total value of $352 billion in 1997 to 522 million tons with a combined value of $827 billion by 2030.
  • The volume of freight tonnage in the Portland area is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.1%.  The overall share of freight tonnage by year 2030 is projected to be: Truck (73%), Rail (11%), Ocean and Barge (10%), Pipeline (6%), and Air (<1%).

 What Does the Freight Master Plan Do? 

  • The Freight Master Plan is part of the City’s Comprehensive Plan - the policy guide for City growth and development - and one of the modal elements of the City’s Transportation System Plan, which elevates freight to the same level as the other modal plans (bicycle, pedestrian, motor vehicle, transportation demand management, transit) by addressing the unique characteristics, needs and impacts of freight movement. 
  • Establishes the Portland Freight Committee, which brings together a diverse group of members representing various multi-modal freight service providers, shippers, trade associations, and businesses involved in freight activities as well as public agency representatives from the local, state, and federal levels.  The Portland Freight Committee serves as an advisory group to the Mayor, Portland City Council and the Office of Transportation on freight related issues.  

 What Role Does the Portland Freight Committee Play?

  • Serves as a valuable regional forum for discussion, an opportunity for joint action, and a source of knowledge and advice for City transportation decisions affecting freight mobility.
  • Promotes the cross sharing of information between the private and public sectors on freight issues.
  • Advocates the importance of supporting a sound multi-modal freight network to the Portland economy and raise the level of public awareness on freight-related issues. 
  • Reviews and makes recommendations on City planning efforts, Capitol Improvement Projects and funding priorities affecting freight.

 How is the Freight Master Plan Implemented? 

  • The capitol projects, programs and activities identified in Freight Master Plan were developed based on three core values:  

Mobility Improvements

Focuses on improving the reliability and efficiency of the freight network to meet increased demands and to identify where to invest in system improvements.  Mobility improvements include:  Providing upgrades at key freight interchanges.  Providing truck-only queue lanes at freeway ramps.  Implementing Intelligent Transportation System improvements (variable message signs, closed-circuit cameras).  Upgrading load limits and seismic upgrades on bridges.  Partnering with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and private rail service providers to improve at-grade railroad crossing safety. 

Livability Improvements

Develops strategies for reducing community impacts from freight movement and balances truck movement needs with those of other transportation modes.  Livability improvements include:  Develop and implement a truck routing signage program to direct truck movements onto appropriate routes.  Update on-street and off-street truck loading regulations.  Partner with railroad operators and ODOT to institute “Quiet Zones” to reduce train whistle noise and improve track safety. 

Healthy Economy

Promotes a multi-modal transportation system that supports long-term economic development by recognizing the role of goods delivery in supporting healthy and vibrant mixed-use centers and main streets.  These types of improvements include:  Provide access and circulation improvements within freight districts.  Prioritize pavement maintenance needs in industrial areas and freight districts.  Partnering with the Portland Development Commission and the Port of Portland to implement transportation improvements that enhance the marketability of industrial sites. 

For more information, please contact Robert Hillier, Freight Planning Coordinator, Portland Bureau of Transportation.  

E-mail: robert.hillier@portlandoregon.gov