2014 Washington State

Freight Mobility Plan banner


Washington’s freight system is important to the economy of our state and country in many ways.

It underpins our national and state economies, supports national defense, directly sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs, and delivers the necessities of life to residents on a daily basis. Goods are shipped into, out of, and around Washington through our system of roads, railroads, marine and air ports, waterways, and other intermodal facilities.

truck rail air ports icons

WHY does freight MATTER to Washington?

•  Maintains the urban goods movement system, supporting jobs, the economy, and clean air for all; and provides goods delivery to residents and businesses.

•  Keeps Washington competitive as a Global Gateway for the State, nation and world.

•  Supports rural economies’ farm-to-market, manufacturing, and resource industry sectors.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) leads development of the Freight Mobility Plan to ensure that the transportation system in Washington State supports and enhances trade and sustainable economic growth.


This Plan was created to meet state and federal legal requirements; to align with the Legislature’s six transportation policy goals: economic vitality, preservation, safety, mobility, environment, and stewardship as outlined in State law RCW 47.04.280. The plan has a significant focus on the newest goal, economic vitality, and supporting freight-related strategies and recommended actions in the statewide Washington Transportation Plan 2030.

Read the Plan here

Road background

In 2012,

freight within Washington supported:

1.23 MILLION jobs

in freight-dependent industries

$123.2 BILLION

in total exports and imports


in gross business income from freight-dependent industries

Freight creates jobs and supports economic development

Our freight system enables local, national and international distribution of an enormous variety of goods to residents and businesses.

Most of Washington state’s industries (including retail and wholesale, manufacturing, construction, transportation, and agriculture/timber and wood products) depend on an effective and efficient freight transportation system.

44% of state’s jobs

are dependent on freight
Freight-dependent industries grew

2.6% from 2011

Employment and Economic Output by Industry in Washington State, 2010

Washington State Industries graph of Employment and Output





Trucks delivered 43 tons of goods per person in Washington in 2011.


Washington state has over 3,300 miles of railroad. In 2011, Washington’s freight rail system moved over 105 million tons worth $20 BILLION.


In 2011, air cargo shipped 1.3 MILLION tons. SEA-TAC is the 3rd largest airport for international cargo on the West Coast, shipping cargo to 17 international destinations non-stop.


In 2012, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma handled 3.58 MILLION 20-foot containers.


Click to view major corridors and modes


Click the tabs below to view icon and map guide

Trucking Map Key

T1 - Corridors carrying more than 10 million tons

T2 - Corridors carrying 4 million to 10 million tons

Alternative Routes - Corridors carrying 0.6 to 4 million tons per year and serve as alternatives to T1 freight routes

Rail Map Key

R1 - Greater than 5 million tons

R2 - 1 million to 5 million tons

R3 - 5 hundred thousand to 1 million tons

R4 - 1 hundred thousand to 5 hundred thousand tons

R5 - Less than 1 hundred thousand tons

Airplane Icon Map Key

Airport (cargo)

Waterway Map Key

W1 - Greater than 25 million tons

W2 - 10 million to 25 million tons

W3 - 5 million to 10 million tons

W4 - 2.5 to 5 million tons

W5 - 0.9 million to 2.5 million tons

Deep Water Port               

Barge Port

BUT the freight industry is faced with growing challenges...

The population of Washington state is expected to increase by 17 percent by 2030. More people and businesses means more strain on limited infrastructure. Freight, an essential part of supporting these 8.1 million people, will face increasing congestion and declining road conditions.


Between 2010 and 2011, WSDOT, together with the Washington State University (WSU) Social & Economic Sciences Research Center and the WSU Freight Transportation Policy Institute, conducted an extensive survey of freight-dependent industries and companies in Washington State.

When asked how they would respond to a 20% increase in congestion, freight firms reported that such conditions would translate into significant direct business cost increases.


In the face of the economic downturn, there has been a loss of momentum to improve infrastructure. Current allocations for maintenance, preservation and operations of roadways will not meet the 10-year $3.1B need.

Poorly maintained and over-crowded freight corridors will not meet future needs of the region, the country or the world.

As a top producer, Washington state holds a competitive position as a national and Global Gateway. Imports and exports transported along our roadways, rail lines, waterways and airports are a critical and valuable chain supporting state, national and international markets.

In 2012, exports and imports totalled:


in exports to Asia


in imports entered the state through Canada


in imports moved to Canada through Washington

And many goods are produced right here in Washington.

Manufacturers and farmers rely on the freight system to ship Washington-made products to customers here and abroad. Washington’s producers generate wealth and jobs in every region in the state.

Freight-dependent jobs occur in the most heavily freight-dependent industry sectors such as wholesale and retail, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and transportation. These sectors are very reliant on the multimodal freight network to conduct day-to-day business.

Washington State Freight-Dependent Industries

Click to view industries

airplane image agriculture image

retail image


In Washington state, The Boeing Company requires an efficent highway supply network to support its plants in Everett and Renton.

Its exports, which are generally flown directly overseas from Boeing’s assembly plants, lift Washington from an average exporting state to one of the highest in the country in terms of export value per resident in the country.

Watch the Aerospace video!

In 2012 the aerospace industry supported:

The other most significant manufacturing subsectors by gross business income are petroleum and coal products, food manufacturing, computer and electrical manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing.

The trend of re-shoring of advanced and other manufacturing to the U.S. is also expected to increase demand for multimodal shipping, especially truck-rail, as more goods are produced domestically.

In 2012 manufacturing created:


Washington State is a major producer of agricultural and timber products. Washington’s agricultural products were valued at over $10 billion in 2012, making Washington a national leader in agricultural production. These goods are typically transported in heavy truckloads that may shorten the pavement lifecycle on highways and roads in rural areas.

In the near term, worldwide demand for Washington agricultural products will grow, increasing the importance of the I-90 corridor, marine and air ports, inland transload centers, waterways, and the rail system to the state’s economy.

Watch the Agriculture video!

The freight transportation system supports retail/wholesale supply chains for consumer goods purchased in grocery stores, restaurants, medical centers and pharmacies, gas stations, and clothing and electronics stores in every store across the state. Some goods are manufactured in-state and many others are imported from other countries or states, arriving by ship, rail, truck, or plane (for high-value goods).

The efficiency and reliability of the system is critical, as distribution companies must provide fast and ubiquitous service that is dependable under all conditions. Hospitals cannot wait for medical supplies and small businesses are unlikely to succeed without reliable delivery of stock.

Watch the Retail video!

We can meet this challenge together.

Freight is more than just numbers. People’s livelihoods depend on a reliable and low-cost freight rail, waterway and truck freight system. When freight doesn't work it doesn't just affect businesses, it impacts everyone. WSDOT engaged local government, businesses, freight carriers, freight system customers and users, and air quality experts to prioritize infrastructure improvements to keep freight moving.

Why does freight matter?

Check out these videos to see how industries in our state are dependent on an effective freight system.



2014 Freight Mobility Plan: Investing in freight, investing in the future

As Washington continues to grow, so will the demands on freight and the infrastructure needed to support it. Currently, Washington's road, highway, freight rail and waterway systems are underfunded and crumbling. Now is a critical time for investment in growing our economy, creating and sustaining jobs, and improving our mobility and quality of life.

The WA State Freight Mobility Plan outlines how state investments and priorities can improve freight, but it takes more.

What can you do?

  • Read the Freight Plan and share the findings and recommendations with your colleagues and friends

  • Join with other businesses to raise awareness of freight needs

  • Help others to understand how freight directly affects our state’s economy