Realigning Multimodal Freight Networks in Response to International Capacity Expansion

The widely discussed Panama Canal expansion project is expected to be completed by 2014. Following that expansion, container flows for imports and exports will likely shift to eastern and Gulf coast ports and the increased freight volumes may strain the already congested intermodal transportation system. This project will examine how expansion of the Panama Canal may redistribute trade volumes across the intermodal system, including ports, waterways, railroads, and highways. This research will assess potential effects of the Canal's expansion on the freight networks in the South and Midwest and identify rational strategies for the nation's multimodal network in response to this international capacity expansion. A promising opportunity for gaining economic competitiveness is the freight village concept. Freight villages and global logistics parks are planned distribution, logistics, and warehousing communities built around intermodal hubs with the expectation of exogenous and endogenous growth. However, partners at the University of Memphis and the University of Southern Mississippi have shown that not all intermodal facilities are significant job creators and that the reasons for different economic impacts need to be better understood. Some key activities of this research are to develop and analyze a comprehensive database of intermodal freight handling facilities for a range of comparable factors and performance measures. Research activities also include transportation network analysis with possible scenarios of shifting intermodal hub locations. It will conduct capacity analysis of existing transportation infrastructures to identify the possibility of capacity expansion. The researchers envision importing the dataset into freight network analysis and GIS tools to more clearly identify successful implementations of freight villages. They will also conduct economic development analysis to quantify the economic growth due to the increased freights movement and handling. This research will also develop web-based information tools that can be used in assessing and selecting the best routes for freight movement and best location for freight facilities. One of the key aspects of this research is to identify the bottlenecks in transportation infrastructures and identify mitigation strategies to encourage efficient freight movement. The infrastructure impacted will most likely be the road and rail systems; however, there is great potential to consider the inland waterways as a possible method to reduce congestion, especially through the use of containers on barge and larger vessels to move greater volumes of grains and other agricultural products. The Obama Administration's Export Initiative includes a goal to double US exports. This research will also include strategies for increasing modal freight shares on the inland waterways. Investments in the inland waterway system may help facilitate additional export activities.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $507449.00
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE)

    University of Wisconsin, Madison
    1415 Engineering Drive, 2205 Engineering Hall
    Madison, WI  United States  53706
  • Start Date: 20120701
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20131231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 33043

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01466544
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE)
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC19, RI-06
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 3:19PM