Freight System Planning

The RPCGB just completed its first Regional Freight Plan that was adopted by the Birmingham MPO in March 2019.  This plan is intended to serve as the freight component of the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), and will provide the basis by which future funding priorities of the MPO are established for freight related accommodations within Jefferson, Shelby and portions of St. Clair and Blount Counties.

The region is located at the crossroads of multiple Interstates and three Class I railroads (Norfolk Southern, CSXT and BNSF), is home to Alabama’s largest international airport (BHM) as well as the Bessemer Municipal Airport (EYK), and has access to the inland waterway system through Port Birmingham. An established network of industrial parks, foreign trade zone sites (No. 98), and privately-owned industrial properties provide the region with capacity to grow and expand. Redevelopment of and encroachment on industrial properties by residential and commercial developers continues to create conflicts and compromise future freight activities.

Freight needs identified as part of part of this plan are focused on all modes of transportation, including highway, port/waterway, and aviation. The needs were identified based on the freight related 2045 Regional Transportation Plan list of projects, data analysis, extensive stakeholder interviews and input, and professional judgment. The project needs in the plan reflect high, medium and low ranked projects. Project types include capacity, operations, and maintenance.

  • Trucks dominate total tonnage, moving 68 percent or 94.2 million tons of commodities into, out of, and within the region by weight and 81 percent by value ($119.3 million). The second highest used mode in the region is rail, accounting for 20 percent or 28.5 million tons by weight and 6 percent by value ($8.5 million).

  • The most significant commodities moving into, out of, and within the region are bulk products such as coal, coal n.e.c., and gravel, which account for 42 percent of all commodities by weight. Coal accounts for the largest inbound and outbound shipments, whereas gravel is the commodity most commonly moved within the region.

  • Alabama is the largest trading partner for Birmingham, comprising 52 percent of all movements in the Birmingham region. Nearby states, including Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee, also rank in the top five trading partners. One outlier geographically in this top ranking is Wyoming, due to its mining of coal brought in to Birmingham.

  • Commodity forecasts show trucks continuing as the dominant mode, accounting for approximately 71 percent of all movement, an increase from the 68 percent share seen in 2015. Trucking tonnage is estimated to grow a total of 31 percent, driving the region to an overall growth in freight tonnage of 25 percent. Rail tonnages are estimated to decrease by 3 percent, resulting in a loss of mode share.

Birmingham Regional Freight Plan – Adopted March 2019

Other Freight Plan Related Downloads

For information on the I59-20 replacement project, please visit

Freight Plan Archives