A multi-criteria GIS-based route selection tool for hazardous material transport: Consideration of environmental consequence, traffic congestions and costs

Bahareh Inanloo, Florida International University


Hazardous materials are substances that, if not regulated, can pose a threat to human populations and their environmental health, safety or property when transported in commerce. About 1.5 million tons of hazardous material shipments are transported by truck in the US annually, with a steady increase of approximately 5% per year. ^ The objective of this study was to develop a routing tool for hazardous material transport in order to facilitate reduced environmental impacts and less transportation difficulties, yet would also find paths that were still compelling for the shipping carriers as a matter of trucking cost. The study started with identification of inhalation hazard impact zones and explosion protective areas around the location of hypothetical hazardous material releases, considering different parameters (i.e., chemicals characteristics, release quantities, atmospheric condition, etc.). Results showed that depending on the quantity of release, chemical, and atmospheric stability (a function of wind speed, meteorology, sky cover, time and location of accidents, etc.) the consequence of these incidents can differ. The study was extended by selection of other evaluation criteria for further investigation because health risk as an evaluation criterion would not be the only concern in selection of routes. Transportation difficulties (i.e., road blockage and congestion) were incorporated as important factor due to their indirect impact/cost on the users of transportation networks. Trucking costs were also considered as one of the primary criteria in selection of hazardous material paths; otherwise the suggested routes would have not been convincing for the shipping companies. The last but not least criterion was proximity of public places to the routes. ^ The approach evolved from a simple framework to a complicated and efficient GIS-based tool able to investigate transportation networks of any given study area, and capable of generating best routing options for cargos. The suggested tool uses a multi-criteria-decision-making method, which considers the priorities of the decision makers in choosing the cargo routes. ^ Comparison of the routing options based on each criterion and also the overall suitableness of the path in regards to all the criteria (using a multi-criteria-decision-making method) showed that using similar tools as the one proposed by this study can provide decision makers insights in the area of hazardous material transport. This tool shows the probable consequences of considering each path in a very easily understandable way; in the formats of maps and tables, which makes the tradeoffs of costs and risks considerably simpler, as in some cases slightly compromising on trucking cost may drastically decrease the probable health risk and/or traffic difficulties. This will not only be rewarding to the community by making cities safer places to live, but also can be beneficial to shipping companies by allowing them to advertise as environmental friendly conveyors.^

Subject Area

Industrial engineering|Environmental engineering|Operations research

Recommended Citation

Inanloo, Bahareh, "A multi-criteria GIS-based route selection tool for hazardous material transport: Consideration of environmental consequence, traffic congestions and costs" (2015). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10165979.