Research Projects

Project at a Glance

Title: Development of a California geospatial intermodal freight transport model with cargo flow analysis

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Corbett, James J.

Contractor: University of Delaware

Contract Number: 07-314

Research Program Area: Emissions Monitoring & Control

Topic Areas: Mobile Sources & Fuels


This project further develops the Geospatial Intermodal Freight Transportation (GIFT) model, configures the model with California-specific data, and uses the configured model in a case study of the possible benefit of shifting freight transportation from trucks to rail. The result is a model that describes the energy and environmental impacts of goods movement through California's marine, highway, and rail systems. The GIFT research team has employed a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based model that integrates three transportation network models (road, rail, water), joined by intermodal transfer facilities (ports, railyards, truck terminals) in a single GIS "intermodal network" modified to capture energy and environmental attributes. A Case Study was performed to explore the difference in emissions under Least-travel-time versus least-CO2 routing of goods movements, identifying how emissions savings can be achieved through modal shifts from road to rail. The Case Study estimates CO2 emissions to be approximately 2.89 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 attributable to the container traffic of the three major West Coast ports (LA-Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle) using a least-time scenario (which comprises mostly trucks). Our estimation of a total reduction of approximately 1.7 MMT of CO2 occurs through a nationwide modal shift of West Coast port-generated goods movement; within California state air basins, this reduction is near 0.5 MMT CO2. Overall, this research demonstrates how the GIFT model, configured with California-specific data, can be used to improve understanding and decision-making associated with freight transport at regional scales.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

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