RI.gov R.I. Government Agencies | Privacy Policy |

Freight Planning

Staff Contacts
Linsey Callaghan, Supervising Planner
(401) 222-6479

Freight is the movement of goods into and through the state by means of roads and highways, railways, ports and waterways, and airports. Very few items purchased in the Rhode Island or the region are made or grown locally. Residents and businesses depend on freight transportation for nearly everything including what we eat, wear, and use. Freight movement has a huge impact on our daily lives and on the economic vitality of the state and the region. The effectiveness of the transportation system to move both people and goods has a direct impact on the economy and on the cost of everything purchased.

The Division of Planning completed the first Rhode Island State Freight & Goods Movement Plan and the Executive Summary in 2016.  The plan build upon the Freight Needs Assessment, which was developed in 2006. The plan’s recommendations encompass both infrastructure improvements and policy changes all with the goals of increasing freight efficiency, improving economic growth and competitiveness, and strengthening the connectivity of the state’s freight system. The infrastructure recommendations focus on improving the condition and efficiency of Rhode Island’s Interstates and highways, which carry the majority of freight in the state. They also seek to increase the capacity of and improve access to key freight facilities, such as the Port of Providence, Port of Davisville, and TF Green Airport through upgrades to rail lines, first/last mile connections, piers, and airport ramps. The plan also makes freight policy recommendations in the areas of state leadership, funding, workforce development, environment, land use, safety and enforcement, regional coordination, and resilience.

The Division of Planning developed the plan in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation with consulting assistance from HDR Engineering. Through a Freight Working Group, focus groups, surveys, and other outreach, it engaged a broad group of stakeholders during the planning process including state and quasi-public agencies such as the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, freight operators including the Providence & Worcester Railroad and ProvPort, industry associations such as the Rhode Island Trucking Association, and many manufacturers and businesses that move products to and from the state. It also held two public meetings on June 15, 2016 to gather input on the plan.

The US Department of Transportation has paid increasing attention to freight, and The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) made the receipt of funding through the National Highway Freight Program, a new formula funding program specifically for freight-related activities, contingent upon the development of a state freight plan.