Characteristics, Benefits, and Challenges of Inland Ports

The mainland US has tens of inland ports according to the World Port Association. Viewing their map and descriptions from the literature point to the lack of consensus on what constitutes an inland port. Research and conversations with industry personnel quickly led to the term dry port and identified an inland port as not residing on a waterway. Inland ports are removed from deep water and serve an intermodal distribution function. The advantages of inland ports or dry ports are to relieve congestion at nearby port facilities and facilitate distribution to inland destinations. Another goal involves moving goods to rail, thereby reducing truck volumes for air quality considerations. Finally, the use of inland locations increased as container usage grew during the latter part of the 20th century and formalized during the early 2000s. Several recent situations showed how the supply chain can be disrupted, leading to congested and unexpected consequences. In this phase of this project, the research team will establish the priority for focusing on inland port characteristics, attendant infrastructure, and the existing workforce and DEI conditions. At least two ports will be identified as case study locations by the research team and named stakeholders; one will be Tulsa and another port to be named. All data are expected to be available through public sources: USDOT, BTS, Army Corps of Engineers, World Ports, Association of American Railroads, or solicited directly from the ports. There will be no issues because all public entities should be subject to Open Record’s requests. For this phase, Excel spreadsheets will be the primary input conduit for initial data characteristics. The following questions may be addressed in this study: (1) Does the influence on global supply matter or does local supply impact the critical inland port characteristic?; (2) What levels of infrastructure, considering the volume of inland ports, are necessary for long-term success (for roadways, railways, traffic)?; (3) Is there an optimum distance between an inland port and a deep-water port or is this not relevant?; (4) What are the potential environmental effects of inland ports?; (5) What are appropriate proximity land uses, and what is required to be a good neighbor?; (6) What are appropriate environmental justice and DEI considerations?; (7) Are inland port workforce diverse enough or is greater outreach required?; (8) What is the economic perspective for the area in close proximity to the inland port? Is there a regional economic impact? The output is expected to present a process that will enable the assessment of the strengths of inland ports, facilitating the determination of their sustainability. A process will be designed to enable inland ports to incorporate their data and variables to determine and compare operations for the inland ports considered in the case study. Recommendations will include ways to strengthen their workforce and incorporate DEI recruitment strategies.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $72000
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Southern Plains Transportation Center

    University of Oklahoma
    201 Stephenson Pkwy, Suite 4200
    Norman, OK  United States  73019
  • Project Managers:

    Dunn, Denise

  • Performing Organizations:

    Texas Southern University, Houston

    3100 Cleburne Street
    Houston, TX  United States  77004
  • Principal Investigators:

    Lewis, Carol

    Goodwin, Gwendolyn

  • Start Date: 20231001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01899461
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Southern Plains Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348306., CY1-TSU-01
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 16 2023 5:20PM