In 2022, OKI’s staff completed the first phase of a new regional freight plan. The first phase included the creation of Existing Freight Network Performance Summaries for each of the five freight modes (road, rail, river, runway, and pipeline); a Commodity Flow Report; expanded data features in updated, interactive rail and truck freight maps; and a brand-new Freight Job Hubs interactive map tool.

In addition, HDR Consultants was hired to assist OKI staff with Phase Two of the freight plan. This included:

  • five modal future freight network performance summaries
  • strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis report
  • issues and needs assessment report
  • recommendations for the plan

The new OKI Freight Plan is slated for completion in June 2023.

OKI Continues Efforts to Fund Needed Freight Improvements

OKI’s role as grantee of two 2020-awarded Federal Rail Administration (FRA) Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants — totaling $2.3 million — for the OKI Region, continued in 2022.

As part of Cincinnati Bulk Terminals (CBT)’s CRISI project, delivery and installation of a new material handler occurred during first quarter. Construction of CBT’s overhead conveyor began in August, with the pouring of concrete footings. In November, the final section of the conveyor’s enclosed tubing was set into place above Mehring Way. By year’s end, Duke Energy had finished all utility relocation work, the entire conveyor was erected, belting was installed, and electrical control work and power wiring was about 80% complete. The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

For the Benchmark River and Rail Terminals (Benchmark) CRISI project, efforts for the better part of the year were focused on meeting FRA requirements for preliminary engineering (PE) approval for new traffic signal and safety improvements, including train preemption at three private rail grade crossings. FRA granted PE approval in October. The year ended with the required documents submitted to complete the FRA grant agreement for federal review.

Staff Invited to Serve Statewide Committee

In January 2022, Robyn Bancroft, OKI strategic initiatives manager, became the Ohio Freight Advisory Committee (FAC) first-ever vice chair. Robyn was selected to the committee for her deep knowledge and skills in freight transportation planning across all the modes her long-time working relationship with ODOT, and her active participation and assistance in creating Transport Ohio. Robyn represents southwest Ohio, metropolitan planning organizations/rural transportation planning organizations across the state, and the public sector in her new position.