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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Spatial Dynamics of Logistics Facilities and Implications for Freight Flows

  • Author(s): Giuliano, Genevieve;
  • Kang, Sanggyun;
  • Yuan, Quan
  • et al.

One of the most notable recent trends in U.S. metropolitan areas is the rapid growth in warehousing and distribution (W&D) activity. The number of warehousing establishments increased 15%, and warehousing employment increased 33% between 2003 and 2013. At the same time, some operations in some markets appear to be decentralizing (moving away from the central core to the urban peripheries) in search of lower land costs.

Although decentralization may contribute to reduced total freight shipping cost, increased distance from urban centers may result in increased truck vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and associated externalities: congestion, increased fuel consumption, noise, greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria emissions, accidents, and infrastructure damage. While the logistics business benefits from cost savings, society at large incurs any additional external costs.

Understanding how these shifts are affecting truck VMT is essential for developing effective policies for managing truck activities and their associated externalities. Due to the dearth of truck shipment data, this research focuses on the changes in W&D facility and employment location and uses measures of relative location to infer potential truck VMT impacts. 

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