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Research Projects (2003-04)

Identifying Number


Project Title

Wyoming Freight Movement and Wind Vulnerability


University of Wyoming

Project Investigators

Dr. R. Young (rkyoung@uwyo.edu)
Dr. D. Mukai (dmukai@uwyo.edu)
University of Wyoming
Civil & Architectural Engineering Dept
(307)766-2184 and (307)766-4224
Fax: (307)766-2221

External Project Contact

John Lane
Systems Planning Engineer
Wyoming Department of Transportation
Phone: (307)777-4180
Fax: (307)777-4759

Project Objective

The main objective of this research work is to investigate the movement of freight in the state of Wyoming. Currently very little is known about the freight vehicle numbers and commodity volumes moving within and through the state. To meet this objective the following major research tasks are proposed:

  • Develop an understanding of the commodity flow within the state of Wyoming
  • Perform an analysis of freight vehicle accidents within the state with a particular emphasis on freight truck accidents during high wind conditions
  • Identify critical freight infrastructure in Wyoming

Project Abstract

The movement of freight within the state of Wyoming is very critical to Wyoming's economy as well as the national economy. Wyoming's transportation system provides a vital link for the movement of commodities across the United States, in addition to providing access to the mineral, industrial, and agricultural resources of Wyoming. Because of the important economic role played by freight goods movement, research into freight transportation is extremely valuable. Concerns with freight transportation is often focused on several broad areas including economics, safety, affects of freight vehicles on transportation infrastructure, and in the forefront today, transportation security and homeland defense.

The intent of this research is two-fold. First is to get an overall understanding of freight movement within the state including freight vehicle counts, commodity volumes, and freight vehicle accidents. The focus of the research will be on truck and rail freight movement since air and water freight movement represent a very small proportion of goods movement within and through the state. The second intent of the research is to focus on freight vehicle safety in strong wind conditions. High wind conditions are frequently causing freight vehicles to be blown over, forcing the shut down of interstate roadways and halting the movement of freight through these heavily used corridors.

Task Descriptions

  • Conduct a literature review on freight transportation data and modeling (September 2003).
  • Compile available freight movement and safety data (January 2004).
  • Perform an accident analysis on safety data (February 2004).
  • Develop a preliminary estimate of freight vehicle and commodity flow volumes for both inter- and intra-state freight travel (March 2004).
  • Finalize freight vehicle commodity flow volumes (April 2004)
  • Identify critical freight movement infrastructure within Wyoming (May 2004).
  • Submit final report (June 2004).
  • Submit a technical paper to the Transportation Research Board meeting (August 2004).

Milestones, Dates

Starting Date: July 1, 2003
Ending Date: June 30, 2004

Student Involvement

One graduate student and one part-time undergraduate student

Relationship to Other Research Projects

This research is not related to any other research projects.

Technology Transfer Activities

Research effort can be applied to the development of statewide freight movement and homeland security management plans. Research also has implications for Region 8 impacts both the freight and security areas. The research results will be disseminated through a final report, a technical paper and presentations.

Regarding the wind vulnerability aspect of this research, the ultimate end product of the longer-term project would be to develop a warning system for truck drivers that would be delivered via ITS message systems. The message board would relay wind speeds categories. The driver would have a table that listed dangerous wind speeds for various load and axle configurations. The information from both the proposed project and the potential longer-term project would also be of use to evacuation theory researchers in southeast coastal states. These researchers are trying to determine at what wind speed to terminate hurricane evacuations.

Potential Benefits of the Project

The results of this research effort will provide transportation planners in the state and region with a better understanding of the travel patterns and flow of goods within and through the state. This information can be used by agencies to better plan for freight transportation. In addition, the research will lead to the identification of critical freight infrastructure and system vulnerabilities, which are necessary in planning for homeland security and adverse weather responses.

Secondarily, the results of the accident analysis of freight vehicle accidents will provide information as to the extent of the safety issue with respect to freight vehicles. In particular, the vulnerability of freight vehicles to strong wind conditions has been a major concern in Wyoming. This research will quantify the extent of this problem and will identify critical locations for additional research.

TRB Keywords

Freight traffic, freight transportation, freight security, transportation planning, travel patterns, accident analysis, wind

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050