Monday, September 25 – Warren, PA — At the Warren County Board of County Commissioners, Commissioner Jeff Eggleston and Planning and Zoning Director, Dan Glotz, unveiled a comprehensive freight study conducted by the Northwest Commission which showcased Warren County’s dominance in the region when it comes to industry exports and freight utilization, including the fact that it is 13th (top 20%) in the state in freight tonnage exported.
“I’ve asked Dan here today,” said Commissioner Eggleston, “to review this regional freight study which contains several major findings we intend to use to lobby for greater investment in our transportation system.”
“The study was conducted by the RPO, Rural Planning Organization (an arm of the Northwest Commission), of which Warren County is a member,” Said Mr. Glotz. “The RPO is made up of 5 counties and in addition to working directly with PennDOT to plan and program projects within the region, we’re also responsible for updating and maintaining a transportation improvement plan which spans twelve years and a long-range plan that spans 25 years.”
“When we were updating the long-range plan,” he continued, “we discovered the need to take a more in-depth look at how freight flows throughout the 5 county region. In projecting what the study would look at the group determined it couldn’t just look at highways and bridges, but also had to research rail, air, imports and exports and all movement of freight in general.”
The RPO contracted with Baker International to assist with developing the freight study and the RPO developed a 19-member steering committee made up of county planners from the 5 counties, some PennDOT personnel, major shippers throughout the region as well as industries that utilize shipping for moving product around.
The steering committee held a number of stakeholder engagement meetings to identify issues freight haulers were being faced with which included a series of freight focus groups. There were also phone interviews conducted with leaders in the region related to freight.
“Out of that research,” said Glotz, “four major themes emerged from the study: Safety and Security, Mobility, Operations, and Planning.”
The federal government responded to the initial findings and asked the group to identify candidate critical freight corridors. The group identified 10 altogether, three of which are in Warren County. The first, Route 62; the second, Pennsylvania Avenue; the third, Lexington Avenue.
Just in exports, Warren County ranks 13th in the state and leads the region with 13 million tons of freight in 2015. To give a sense of how dominant Warren County is in this respect, the next closest in the region is Crawford (a county with double Warren’s population) with 5 million tons and the rest breakdown as follows: Clarion with 2.47 million, Venango with 1.84 million, and forest with .27 million.
In closing, Mr. Glotz stated, “We lead the region in imports and exports of freight, which is something to be proud of. There’s a lot of valuable information in here. We will use this data to support requests for funding in the future for improvements and upgrades to our transportation network. I would encourage everyone to read this.”
“I want this to be the first step,” said Commissioner Eggleston, “to build a coalition to advocate for greater investment at the State and Federal Levels. We can use this study to create a Transportation Summit and perhaps bring the region’s business and community interests together in order to get their views and buy-in to generate a push for Federal investment here.”
Commissioner Eggleston continued highlighting the ongoing discussions in Washington about a Transportation Bill. “We need to be prepared for infrastructure spending and have our plans and interests laid out. That way we’ll be able to properly advocate for our interests.”
Eggleston stated in closing, “I think this information makes the best case we’ve seen for some major connectors to interstate highways. We are miles ahead of everyone in the region in freight exports and there’s obvious business growth potential. We need come together and capitalize on this.”