APPLICATION OF ITS TO PORTS
IN THE PHILADELPHIA REGION
Historically the port community and the transportation community have operated on two separate
tracks. While the ITS community has been very successful in reaching out to nontraditional
stakeholders such as police departments, EMS services, and information service providers, and the
National ITS Architecture incorporates Commercial Vehicle Operations; the ports are still a
missing element of ITS. This project presents an opportunity to advance integration of ITS and
port activities. Its purpose is to define port information needs and determine how ITS can fulfill
them. This will include developing ITS architecture market packages to support port operations
and identifying prototype projects that will implement the market packages.
Philadelphia presents an ideal situation to study the integration of ports and ITS. As a multi-state
area, Delaware River port facilities are located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. There
is diversity in port facilities; some specialize in container operations, while others specialize in
break-bulk imports. Like other ports, the Port of Philadelphia is studying innovative concepts to
increase cargo levels and efficiency including inland port terminals and agile port technology.
Concurrent with advancement of innovative port planning has been the rapid deployment of ITS
on expressways in the Delaware Valley.
One of the notable local port initiatives is the demonstration of agile port technology. The agile
port concept, advocated by the US Maritime Administration and the US Department of Defense,
involves the next generation of transport and logistic technologies. It involves several
components. One component will link by highway and rail general cargo marine terminals in
Southeastern Pennsylvania with intermodal commercial and military terminals in Central
Pennsylvania. Another component will track cargo and equipment from an international origin to
the Port and beyond to an inland destination. Getting trucks into and out of the port with minimal
delays is critical.
Due to the need for additional port capacity in the northeast for shipping military supplies
overseas, the location of a large military supply depot outside of Harrisburg, and the deployment of
agile port technology, the US Department of Defense recently designated the Port of Philadelphia a
Strategic Port. As part of this project, use of ITS to expiate strategic goods in the Chambersburg to
Philadelphia corridor will be investigated.
Most regional ITS architectures, including metropolitan Philadelphia’s, place an emphasis on
sharing information among operation centers and providing it to the public. Goods movement has
not been a main focus of regional ITS activity. Implementing the agile port combined with the
Strategic Port designation presents an opportunity to enhance the goods movement element of the
regional architecture. Truckers need good travel information, and port activity information can
help traffic operation centers plan for an influx of truck traffic. One particular concern relates to
drayage operations, which entails trucking cargo to intermediate rail facilities or a final destination.
Improving the availability of information at the modal interfaces is vital to the maritime and
The objectives of this study are to gain insight into port operations and travel information needs; to
provide an overview of the technology available to port, drayage, and truck operators to monitor
travel conditions and track cargo; to develop a port component of the Regional ITS Architecture by
applying the National ITS Architecture to port activities; to explore how ITS can support the
shipment of goods within the Port of Philadelphia; and to conceptually identify opportunities to
implement ITS projects. The products of these activities can be exportable to other regions in the
Task 1: Organize Goods Movement ITS Working Group
Establish a working group including but not limited to relevant members of the Delaware Valley
Goods Movement Task Force (DVRPC’s freight advisory committee), the ITS Technical Task
Force, FHWA, the Defense Logistics Agency, US Maritime Administration, I-95 Corridor
Coalition, and other appropriate stakeholders. This working group will provide technical and
Task II: Survey Truckers and Terminal Operators to Identify Practices and Information
In cooperation with the Working Group, identify a representative sample of truckers and drayage
operators based upon factors such as size of operation, type of goods carried, level of business, and
ports and terminals served. Conduct interviews with the operators and port/rail terminals to
determine current practices such as dispatching procedures, method for selecting routes between
terminals, what travel information they currently receive, and what travel information is desired.
Interviewees would also be asked about their willingness to pay for traveler information or to
purchase equipment to receive traveler information and their interest in participating in a traveler
information demonstration project. At a minimum, five different port facilities and 15 trucker or
drayage operators will be surveyed. As part of a separate study, DVRPC is surveying truckers in
South Jersey to determine what problems they encounter as they access and egress port facilities.
While both surveys share many of the same objectives, the South Jersey ports are primarily break-
bulk facilities, and additional questions will be directed at local access issues. Responses from that
survey will be added to the database generated by this project.
Task III: Scan Technology Available to Maritime and Drayage Operators to Meet Travel
Information and Cargo Tracking Needs
Contact major port facilities in the United States and other knowledgeable sources to identify any
new technology or best practices that can be employed to provide traffic routing and cargo tracking
information to enhance port-related freight operations.
Task IV: Develop Port Related Component of the Regional ITS Architecture
Using the information gathered in Task II, map existing information flows among goods
movement operators and between goods movement operators and traditional transportation system
operations centers. In conjunction with the Working Group review the user services and market
packages contained in the National ITS Architecture and determine what market packages, or
elements of market packages, may be applicable to port activity in the Philadelphia region. Where
the National ITS Architecture does not provide adequate guidance, develop prototype market
packages that reflect the interface needs of the port and drayage operators. Based upon the
identified needs and applicable market packages map missing information flows. Particular
attention will be given to the traffic and cargo tacking information needs of agile port technology,
inland ports, the military and other port constituents. Document how applicable the National ITS
Architecture is to port-related freight operations.
Task V: Evaluate Application of ITS to an Inland Port/Strategic Corridor
The Chambersburg to Philadelphia corridor will serve as a test case to examine the application of
ITS to an inland port/strategic corridor. Activities will identify travel monitoring equipment and
traveler information services in the Chambersburg to Philadelphia corridor including the
Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Schuylkill Expressway, the Norfolk-Southern Harrisburg rail line, and
other alternative routes. Review long-range ITS plans to identify any missing gaps in the traffic
monitoring programs that are vital to the port/military communities. Determine what types of
traveler information are available, in what format(s), how often is it updated, and whether the
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PennDOT are willing to provide information targeted to
inland port activity. Identify alternative mechanisms to impart travel and port information to
truckers, such as highway advisory radio (HAR) devices dedicated to the goods movement
Task VI: Identify Opportunities to Implement Goods Movement Based ITS Projects
Based upon the above tasks, identify short and long-term demonstration projects to integrate travel
and cargo tracking information into port operations. Develop project descriptions, costs, and time
frame. Identify lead agency and funding. Show which elements of the regional architecture will
be served by the projects.
1. Summary of survey results documenting port and drayage procedures, their travel and
cargo tracking information needs and how ITS can serve the port community.
2. Summary of technology and best practices used by port facilities to impart travel
information and track cargo.
3. Port element of the Regional ITS Architecture with documentation describing any
difficulties or issues related to mapping the National ITS Architecture to port activities.
4. Recommendations for ITS projects in the Chambersburg to Philadelphia corridor inland
5. List of short and long-term demonstration projects, with project descriptions, to test the
viability of applying ITS to port activities.
COST BREAKDOWN BY TASK
Task I: Organize Goods Movement ITS Working Group $19,500
Task II: Survey Truckers and Terminal Operators to Identify Practices 26,000
and Information Needs
Task III: Scan Technology Available to Maritime and Drayage Operators 6,500
to Meet Travel Information and Cargo Tracking Needs
Task IV: Develop Port Related Component of the Regional ITS Architecture 32,500
Task V: Evaluate Application of ITS to Goods Movement Between 26,000
Chambersburg and Philadelphia
Task VI: Identify Opportunities to Implement Goods Movement Based ITS Projects 19,500
Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr
January 1, 2004 start date assumed