2040Freight is the product of more than three years of research, public engagement, drafting, and refinements. The plan will be used to update freight related policies and projects in Portland’s Transportation System Plan and guide PBOT’s work to build and support a safe, equitable, efficient, and sustainable urban freight system. On July 12, 2023, 2040Freight was presented to and unanimously adopted by City Council.
The flow of goods and services is a critical part of everyday life in Portland. It is the West Coast’s fourth largest freight hub for international trade but that trade relies on a complex and dynamic network of roads, rails, and ports to get goods to market and their destination. This multimodal system makes planning for urban freight a unique process. The 2040 Portland Freight Plan (2040Freight) is an update to and builds upon the City’s 2006 Freight Master Plan and will guide the work of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to support safe, equitable, efficient, and sustainable urban freight over the next 20 years.
The 2019 PBOT Strategic Plan requires the bureau to address structural racism and reduce carbon emissions in all its work. Thus, this freight plan update recognizes that while the movement of commodities has been foundational to Portland’s growth and development, at times it also has been at the significant expense of marginalized communities including the Original People of the land, immigrant laborers from China and other countries who helped build the transcontinental railroad, and Black Portlanders intentionally displaced from routing Interstate 5 through the Albina neighborhood. At the intersection of environmental justice, the future of Portland’s urban freight network has a role to play in addressing equity, reducing carbon emissions, and improving air quality for a more just society.
This plan centers on the actions (Chapter 4), transportation strategy (Chapter 5), and infrastructure projects (Chapter 6) that the city, partner agencies, and institutions will pursue to meet our goals in a shared vision for the future of freight. But it also includes a robust review of existing and future conditions (Chapter 2), new trends in urban freight (Chapter 3), and tools and analyses to support and guide PBOT over the next two decades (Chapters 7, 8, & 9).
EXISTING + FUTURE CONDITIONS
Collectively, freight-related occupations employ around 15% of the Portland workforce. The freight industry employs people with a high-school diploma or GED at higher rates than the rest of the economy, however women and people of color are underrepresented in freight-related occupations. With regards to safety, truck-involved crashes are much less frequent than automobile crashes, accounting for less than 3% of non-freeway crashes and 45 fatal or serious injuries between 2014 and 2018. Portland is committed to eliminating all fatalities and serious injuries from traffic crashes and this Plan’s tools and projects address this.
Portland has some of the highest rates of diesel emissions exposure in the Oregon. On-road diesel vehicles, such as heavy-duty trucks, account for about 15% of total diesel emissions in the Portland area. Roads and ramps that access freeways and bridges crossing the Willamette are among the most congested points in the road network, contributing to unreliability and added cost of goods and services.
The freight transportation system is vital to post-event economic and community recovery, but vulnerable to natural disasters. Given Portland’s location along the Cascadia Subduction Zone and three other fault lines, earthquakes are of notable concern. Swan Island and the North Peninsula are particularly vulnerable due to limited access points and the high potential for damage. 2040Freight addresses the resiliency of the bridges connecting these areas to the rest of the city.
Technology and the pandemic are major drivers of new trends in urban freight operations. E-commerce grew three times faster than other retail over the last decade, accelerated further by the pandemic. E-commerce is also a major contributor to other trends like changes in last-mile operations, increased demand for warehouse space, and high competition for load/unload spaces. Driver shortages are another trend due to an aging workforce, working conditions, and regulation changes. And there is renewed interest in nearshoring or reshoring production/manufacturing in the US/North America. Electric vehicles and alternative fuels are increasingly being adopted, while technology is also leading advances in rail transportation operations, automated vehicles, and delivery robots/drones. And finally, the International Maritime Organization set targets for carbon reduction, spurring changes in fueling and operational needs for marine freight and ports.
FROM VISION TO ACTIONS
We envision Portland as a vibrant city and thriving economy that connects people, goods, and services within Portland, and to regional, national, and international markets. Our vision for a low-carbon future advances safe, equitable, and efficient urban freight movement for enhanced health, prosperity, and quality of life for all Portlanders.
To realize this vision, 2040Freight establishes eight goals and over 50 actions to advance those goals. These actions include developing, expanding, or exploring new programs, policies, and tools, like studying grade-separated rail crossings, updating freight district pavement standards, and piloting new curb configurations. Just over half of the actions are “priority actions” which are further prioritized within the next 5 or 10 years. The remaining actions (or “opportunity actions”) may be implemented if/as funding and staff resources are available or in the 11-20 year timeframe.
To help address carbon emissions, congestion, safety, and other objectives, Portland emphasizes moving people and goods/services rather than the number of vehicles. But moving people requires fundamentally different considerations than moving goods and services, as the freight system is heterogeneous and complex. 2040Freight introduces a policy framework that captures the nuance and variety of freight needs. This framework will be able to help guide the City’s approach to planning for movement of goods and services while addressing environmental, safety, equity, and efficiency goals.
As of 2020, 41% of the freight projects identified in the 2006 Freight Master Plan had been completed. Incomplete projects were re-evaluated for inclusion in the 2040Freight project list. Additional projects were incorporated from a variety of different local and regional plans and new projects were identified through a critical infrastructure analysis (“Appendix C: Critical Infrastructure Resiliency Evaluation”). Ultimately, 55 projects in PBOT’s jurisdiction were prioritized by category:
- 15 projects, 5 high priority
- Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
- 10 projects, 3 high priority
- 5 projects, 1 high priority
- Street/highway infrastructure
- 25 projects, 5 high priority
Marine projects and other regional projects outside of PBOT’s authority are also included—for a total of 96 projects—but were not prioritized. Categories for smaller, lower-cost “quick-build projects were also identified, which include wayfinding, loading and unloading infrastructure, and roadway design improvements.
2040Freight also identified 23 clusters of streets inside freight districts that could be candidates for the Local Improvement District program to help unlock underutilized industrial land within the city, preventing industry from developing farther away from the city in areas not well served by transit, resulting in longer commute times for Portland’s underserved populations most served by these living wage jobs and greater carbon emissions.
FREIGHT DISTRICT/STREET CLASSIFICATION CHANGES
Street network classifications are a standard tool to support the planning, management, and integration of land uses and transportation systems. Classifications identify the significant freight routes serving the citywide network and are housed in Portland’s Transportation System Plan and 2040Freight recommends changes to freight street and district classifications to better reflect current and desired uses in five specific locations.
PRIORITIZING FREIGHT-RELATED NEEDS
Given 2040Freight’s 20-year timeline, a data-driven tool was developed to support ongoing and dynamic project development. Sufficient data was available to assess five of the plans’ goals: safety, system condition, access, efficiency, and economic vitality. During the development of 2040Freight, this tool helped evaluate our current infrastructure system and identify gaps where projects may be needed. During implementation, this tool will help guide resource allocation and decision making for improvements.
INDUSTRIAL AREAS NOT SERVED BY TRANSIT
Several industrial areas in Portland are disconnected from existing fixed-route transit services, forcing employees to drive to work and limiting employment opportunities for those without or unable to operate a car. To increase equitable access to these job markets and reduce vehicle trips, an analysis was conducted to identify which industrial areas were disconnected from transit. This analysis serves as a starting point for subsequent studies that will identify transportation solutions based on the context, needs, and challenges for individual markets.
The 2040 Portland Freight Plan charts a course for the maintenance, improvement, and further development of a multimodal urban freight system in Portland. The research and analysis within provides a solid understanding of the novel challenges and opportunities facing urban freight. The actions and projects proposed reflect a more equitable and climate conscious approach to urban freight. And the tools and frameworks developed will help guide decision making as the freight network evolves over the next two decades and new issues arise. All in pursuit of a vibrant city and thriving economy with safe, equitable, and efficient urban freight movement.
As part of the planning process, PBOT partnered with local freight businesses to create videos that highlight the City of Portland's urban freight system. The videos show the diversity of freight in Portland—from cargo bike deliveries to moving heavy, oversized machinery—and explore how freight connects Portland to the rest of the world.
During the 2040Freight planning process, a number of reports were developed focusing on different aspects of urban freight, including demographics and equity, existing conditions, new trends, e-commerce, and greenhouse gas reduction best practices. These reports and analyses directly informed the 2040Freight Plan and contain much more detail than the plan document.
Numerous changes were made to the plan an incorporated into the final version as a result of feedback received on the public review draft of the plan. The substantive changes to the draft were detailed in a separate Feedback Summary that accompanied the final version of the 2040Freight plan.