For many years, transportation planning has focused on moving people by automobile or public transit. Over the past decade, OKI’s attention has grown to encompass freight transportation and the importance of freight mobility to economic activity. OKI, recognizing the link between freight mobility and economic development, completed the OKI Regional Freight Plan in August 2011 to understand industry trends, forecast freight demand, and identify projects that maintain freight mobility and spur business growth.

Interactive Freight Maps

Freight Overview

Rail Infrastructure

Truck ADT

The OKI region is a major link in America’s freight transportation network. In 2009, it was estimated that more than 323 million tons of freight flowed into, out of and through the region annually. About one-fifth of this freight was classified as inbound, destined for major businesses in the region. For businesses, transportation is their lifeblood. The OKI region provides a powerful nexus for truck, train, barge, and plane transport through its highly developed, multi-modal infrastructure network.

CVG Airport

The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is ranked as the nation’s eighth airport in landed cargo tonnage. This ranking is projected to rise once DHL completes its latest expansion project which will push DHL’s total capital investment at CVG since 2009 past the $281 million mark.


Cincinnati forms an integral link for two Class 1 railroads (Norfolk Southern and CSX) throughout the Midwest and eastern US. The region is also home to major railroad facilities including three intermodal terminals, three train classification yards and numerous industrial sidings. On average, the region’s three railroad companies handle over 100 trains per day.

Port of Greater Cincinnati

With the redesignation of the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in early 2015, the port is now ranked #1 as the US’s busiest inland port. The port includes 15 counties that share common customers and suppliers making the Ohio River a logistical modal choice.

Interstate 75

Interstate 75, which runs from Michigan to Miami, is a corridor of national significance; the freight it carries is valued at four percent of our country’s GDP. More than 80 percent of the region’s freight moves by truck, so major highways and local roads are vital to regional commerce. Interstate 75, running north-south through the region, is one of the heaviest truck corridors in America.

Compliance with Federal Directives for Freight MPO Transportation Planning

The FAST Act builds upon the changes made by MAP-21 to improve the condition and performance of the national freight network and support investment in freight-related surface transportation projects. While freight plans and freight advisory committees were not required by MAP-21, the FAST Act now requires states to have an approved State Freight Plan by December 4, 2017 that includes a Freight Investment Plan. Working in partnership with our state Departments of Transportation, OKI is interested in keeping our region’s freight needs up to date and eligible for future funding opportunities. Since 2011, OKI has had a Regional Freight Plan in place. The OKI Freight Plan recommendations work to remedy freight deficiencies to keep the region competitive in the future and build on the region’s freight transportation assets as a driver of economic development. In order to keep the OKI 2040 Regional Transportation Plan updated to the FAST Act/USDOT freight standards, it has incorporated and included the OKI Regional Freight Plan. Through this approach, national freight legislative directives are being addressed by the 2040 Plan’s:

  • Support of National Freight Goals
  • Incorporation of Freight Policies, Strategies and Performance Measures
  • Understanding of Freight Trends, Needs and Issues
  • Identification of Regional Freight Transportation Deficiencies
  • Inventory of Bottlenecks and Development of Freight Improvement Strategies

Freight Recommendations

The Freight Plan’s recommendations, based on identified deficiencies, represents unique opportunities the OKI region has to support freight transportation, mobility and economic growth. All of the Regional Freight Plan recommendations were evaluated alongside over 250 other multi-modal projects in this 2016 Plan Update process. Due to limited resources, only one freight-specific improvement is identified in the Plan’s Project List (Project Number 4382 – Hopple Street Passing Track and Crossovers in Hamilton County). Numerous recommendations from the Freight Plan are also included, however they are classified as roadway, public transportation or Intelligent Transportation Improvement (ITS) project types.

Funding for transportation improvements is often a difficult barrier. Authorized under the FAST Act’s Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) Grants are a competitive new funding resource for critical freight and highway projects across the country. In fiscal year 2016, the FAST Act had authorized $800 million in funding for FASTLANE Grants.

Ultimately, the success of the regional freight plan will depend on the partnerships and collaboration of the public and private sectors. Railroads, trucking interests, barge terminals and air cargo carriers will need to collaborate to address the transportation challenges facing OKI over the next 20 years. While collaboration is the most important ingredient for successful implementation, progress can be measured by the economic vitality of regional businesses, which depend so greatly on the adequacy of the freight network.