Department of Transportation agreement to help make freight movement greener
James Corbett


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1:35 p.m., Dec. 16, 2010----University of Delaware Professor of Marine Policy James Corbett, together with colleagues at the Rochester Institute of Technology, has signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a series of joint research initiatives designed to analyze and reduce the environmental impacts of transportation.

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The five-year collaborative agreement with the department's Maritime Administration will include examination of multiple alternative energy technologies and the use of intermodal transit options -- including rail, ship and truck -- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and American dependence on fossil fuels. It also seeks to better inform American policy makers on the best climate change mitigation strategies.

“Close to 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation sources,” explained Scott Hawker, associate professor of software engineering and co-director of the Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making at RIT.

The first project within the agreement seeks to create a web-accessible version of the Geospatial Intermodal Freight Transportation (GIFT) model, a tool jointly created by UD and RIT researchers. The technology utilizes mapping software, similar to Google Earth, to analyze various freight transit routes, using ship, rail or truck, and provide information on cost, time, and emissions parameters for each mode.

“Industry, researchers, and agencies are partnered in a challenging task to find all the ways to make goods movement better -- more energy efficient, environmentally protective, and economical,” Corbett said. “Web-GIFT is a next-step collaborative tool for visualizing a more sustainable goods movement network.”

The collaborative agreement builds on nearly a decade of transportation research conducted by Corbett; Earl "Rusty" Lee, UD assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of advanced traffic operations for the Delaware Center for Transportation; Hawker; Karl Korfmacher, RIT associate professor of environmental science and one of the lead developers GIFT; and James Winebrake, chair of the Department of Public Policy at RIT.

Article by Elizabeth Boyle