Robust transportation networks with different modal alternatives are becoming a key requirement for shippers in rural areas, such as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The key for justifying transportation infrastructure and service development is understanding the freight flows and volumes, but accurate data is not readily available from public sources.

Michigan Tech is working with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to understand the freight flows from our region. The figure below compares data that has been collected directly from shippers to date, and the federal TRANSEARCH database. To date, volume data from 70 companies in the Upper Peninsula has been obtained. Even though only a portion of shippers have provided their volumes to the study, several counties where the total truck volumes have greatly exceeded numbers from the database have been identified. For example, inbound movements to Menominee County are 60% over federal estimate and outbound movements in Marquette County are almost 600% over the estimate. With everyone’s assistance we can reach a much higher percentage of companies so that we can start to understand the freight flows in the Upper Peninsula better. All individual company data will be kept confidential and only aggregate values will be presented in the study.


In addition to understanding the freight flows in general, we want to investigate whether there are any opportunities to reduce the volume of long distance truck transport through the establishment of a transload facility, where several shippers can transfer their goods between truck and rail services (for both inbound and outbound shipments). Three potential locations (Nestoria, Ishpeming, and Amasa, Figure below) have been identified by the various stakeholders. Preliminary comparison of the sites can now be performed. We are mainly interested in any companies with significant intrastate shipping volumes that have not yet participated in the survey (more than 1-2 truckloads per week). They can be anywhere in the UP, but primary targets are within 100+ miles from the locations mentioned above.

The data required includes volume, origin, destination, and rail siding access (if any) which can be filled through survey questionnaire. To receive the questionnaire and more information, please contact Dr. Pasi Lautala at 906-487-3547 or

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