Regional Planning

PART Looks To The Future

Regional Planning

The Piedmont Triad has approached transportation planning on the regional level beginning with the creation of the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation in 1998. Over the past 20 years here have been numerous studies on congestion, growth, transit services and passenger rail in the region. The conclusions have all been the same. As a region we will continue to grow and with that comes increased congestion on major highways, longer commutes and higher transportation costs.

History of Regional Planning Efforts (Adobe PDF)

Regional Growth & Development Scenarios – CommunityViz

Transportation planners have long struggled with how development patterns and transportation networks impact each other. The struggle lies within accurately distributing future population and employment growth across the region. Where people live and work play a significant role in what the transportation network looks like. To help address this opportunity, PART is leading an effort to introduce a scenario planning tool called CommunityViz.  Click for more information

Mobility on the Piedmont Triad


2010 Commuting Patterns in the Piedmont Triad – click for large map

Our commuting pattern in the region is one example of what defines us as a region. Each work day 30% of the regions work force drives from their home county to another county to their job. The map below depicts the number of commuters traveling from county to county.

The #1 Challenge: As part of the Piedmont Together project more than 290 people attended the 13 civic forums held across the region. Over 200 ideas were generated focusing on the strengths and challenges within the region. Of note, the Top Challenge identified in the region was the Lack of Transportation Options. There are two reports that summarize the civic forums, a county by county summary and an analysis of the results. They can be found on the project web site at

The lack of transportation choices is causing families and businesses economic hardship in the region. A significant portion of the region’s population has difficulty accessing jobs, shopping, education, and medical services. Only 10% of the population has access to transportation options such as transit, bicycling and walking. Thirty percent of workers in the region commute to a job outside of their county of residence. Half of all jobs in the region are located in Guilford and Forsyth counties. On average, local residents spend 38% or $1,144* of their monthly household income on transportation costs. There is a lack of stable local funding sources to address these challenges.

Click here to learn more about the Regional Travel Demand Model

Piedmont Triad Freight Study

In recognition of the importance of freight in the Triad, PART, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), and the Triad Metropolitan Planning Organizations (Burlington-Graham, Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem MPOs) embarked on a three-phased approach to develop an enhanced freight component for the Piedmont Triad Regional Model (PTRM). The goal is to provide a safe freight transportation system, support the region’s economic well-being, and achieve efficiency in operations and investment in the freight transportation system. The PTRM is one important tool that can be used in achieving such goals.

The process or plan of action to enhance the freight component of the PTRM contains three phases of work, which include: Phase I: Identify freight nodes and conduct establishment interviews to support development of an advanced freight model; Phase II: Develop an advanced freight sub-model in the Piedmont Triad Regional Model; and Phase III: Conduct travel diary survey to update the freight sub-model developed in the previous phase.

Freight planners and decision makers will benefit from the PTRM and data. Creating better data and models will enable state, regional, and local planners to better predict freight movement trends, and make more informed project investment decisions. The end result of this study will be information that can be used to inform land use planning, transportation planning and project prioritization. The study will also help to understand the dynamics between congestion and freight. The Freight Project has received praise from the Federal Highway Administration for its regional focus and cooperation and the quality of the data collected.

Highlights from Phase I Included 158 Company Surveys, 969 Record Freight Node Database, 139 Distribution Centers Identified.
Click Here for Project Summary (Adobe PDF)
Click Here for Final Report (Adobe PDF)

Phase II: Development of an Advanced Freight Model and Integration with PTRM

Phase II focuses on the development of an advanced freight model. The components are:
1) Regional Freight Truck-Touring Model
2) Regional Commercial Vehicle Touring Model
3) Long Distance Freight Flow Model

The PTRM contains an existing passenger model (gray box) that is used to estimate personal travel by auto and other modes. The passenger model outputs trip tables describing the number of zone to zone trips for personal travel (blue box in lower left corner) that are assigned to the regional highway network using a static assignment model (red box). The components of the freight model are included within the red dashed line. The model’s first component is the firm synthesis model (orange box in upper left of the freight model). The firm synthesis model creates a list of business establishments within the model region (blue box labeled “Synthetics Firms”) that is an input to both the freight demand model and the Commercial Vehicle Touring Model (CVTM).


The freight demand model (orange box in upper right of the freight model) simulates the movement of commodities to, from, and within the Piedmont Triad. The output from this model component is a list of shipments to and from business establishments in the model region (blue box labeled “Shipments”) that is an input to the Freight Truck Touring Model (FTTM).

The FTTM simulates truck movements within the model region that deliver and pick up freight shipments at business establishments. The model is a tour-based model, and builds a set of truck tours including transfer points at which the shipment is handled before delivery/after pickup for shipments with a more complex supply chain (i.e., a warehouse, distribution center, or consolidation center) and the suppliers and buyer of shipments where those are within the model region. The shipment list from the freight demand model is used as demand input for the FTTM and describes the demand for delivery and pick up activity in the model region that must be connected by truck movements.

The CVTM simulates the remainder of the travel of light, medium, and heavy trucks that is for commercial purposes, i.e., providing services and goods delivery to households and services to businesses. As with the FTTM, the CVTM is a tour-based model, but this time demand is derived from the characteristics of the business establishments and households in the model region and as such is not affected by any demand derived from the freight demand model. That is, while the FTTM simulates truck tours based on commodity flows, the CVTM generates and simulates truck and light-duty vehicle movements based on demand for services and goods from certain industries.

The outputs from both the FTTM and the CVTM are converted to trip tables (blue box labeled “Truck Trip Lists…”). In this case, a trip list from each model with trip start and end location and trip timing information is aggregated into zone to zone trips by time period that can be assigned to the regional highway network (red box) in the PTRM along with trips tables from the passenger model.

The FTTM also contains a graphical user interface. All output from the model can easily be viewed by anyone with a web browser.

Phase II Began in early 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. Click here for Phase II Project Management Plan (Adobe PDF)

Click here for Overview of Piedmont Triad Freight Model (Adobe PDF)

Click here for An In-depth Look at the Piedmont Triad Freight Model (Adobe PDF)

For further information contact John Kim, PhD, Regional Travel Demand Modeler at

Regional Planning Snapshots: