Measuring Improvements in the Movement of Highway and Intermodal Freight
This measure would be very much dominated by effects that have little or nothing to do with freight movement given that most travel takes places for personal mobility. Further, even if it were limited to costs of freight movement, it would not be providing a useful measure of performance. Rising total costs could simply reflect rising freight shipments in an expanding economy, or rising use of freight movement relative to other inputs to production and distribution.
Spending on highways is not a measure of freight productivity, even if one focuses on routes of particular importance to freight. More spending could indicate an improvement in road condition or it could indicate wasteful spending.
The number of direct and indirect jobs created by a highway project tells nothing of how the project will affect freight movement or whether the project is worthwhile.
Net present value or benefit/cost ratio
These are measures of the value of highway investments. They do not tell one the degree to which project benefits reflect freight performance.
Value of transportation-related goods and services delivered
This is not really a measure of freight productivity or the implications of highway investment on freight.
Number of at-grade railroad crossings
Number of overpasses with inadequate vertical clearance
Number of weight-restricted bridges
Number of intersections with inadequate turning radii for large trailer
These are all design features which can be impedances for freight movement. Their total number is not a useful measure because many of them are likely to be on routes not heavily used for freight purposes. Further, these features are unlikely to be common on the NHS.
Average load factors / percent of vehicle miles empty
Average length of haul
Ton-miles per unit of labor
Multi-factor industry productivity measures
These are all measures of equipment utilization or labor productivity used within the motor carrier industry. They do not bear a direct relationship to the highway system or address quality or satisfaction with freight service.