Two AASHTO Webinars on Waterways

June 18th, 2013

To all, if you are interested in discussing some of the Water Transportation issues, there are two webinars this week.

The theme of the SCOWT meeting is “Making the Case for Maritime in State DOTs.”  We encourage you to forward this link along to your colleagues in your respective DOT’s who may not necessarily be familiar with the marine transportation network, but might be quite interested in understanding how its operational challenges relate directly to the ability to operate highway networks for freight mobility.

 

Webinar 1:  Thursday, June 20th  1:00 PM EST – The AASHTO Waterborne Freight Bottom Line Report

Next in the series of AASHTO’s freight bottom line reports, SCOWT is pleased to release the Waterborne Freight Bottom line report, a comprehensive examination of the national marine transportation network, how it is a critical driver of freight mobility, and alternatives for action on how it must be maintained and improved for future economic competitiveness.  The report is also a critical education tool for advancing the Water Resources Development Act currently being debated in Congress.

Website:                     www.startvisuals.com

Conference ID:           8563828

Dial In:                        1-866-299-7945

Passcode:                    8563828#

 

Webinar 2:  Friday, June 21st  10:00 AM EST – Marine Navigation Impacts on State DOT’s

The marine transportation system moves tons of freight worth billions every year.  But what happens when it faces critical delays and infrastructure failures?  That freight moves onto highways and rail.  This session will examine how modal diversion and congestion must be planned for when the marine transportation system faces inevitable crises.

  • Alan Meyers, PB:  Low Water Levels on the Upper Mississippi River
  • Anne Strauss Wieder, A. Strauss-Wieder, Inc:  The Port of New York/New Jersey during and after Hurricane Sandy

 

Website:                     www.startvisuals.com

Conference ID:           8563828

Dial In:                        1-866-299-7945

Passcode:                    8563828#

What is the Value of US Trade by Mode and Direction – or what mode really matters??

May 13th, 2013

Given the concerns over the role of international trade, one could easily assume that trade moves either by air, vessels or simply crossing the border to our NAFTA partners. In some regards, trade depends upon all these gateways and trade corridors. The table does not have tonnage, as not all cargoes have a reported tonnage (especially in the other category). The modes are defined as air, a product that passed through an airport, Water passed through a maritime port, while other refers to cargo that either passed through a surface mode to Canada and Mexico (truck, rail or pipeline) or other products that traveled under their own power (like airplanes).

While total trade for the US grew over the period, Maritime trade actually captured some market share from other modes, mostly air cargo. This shift occurred after the recession, as some companies switched from the relatively more expensive air services to water shipments.

Total US Trade, By Gateway Mode, 2010-2012

 

 

In Billions of US Dollars (nominal)

 

Share of US Trade by Mode

2010

2011

2012

 

2010

2011

2012

Exports

Total

1,278

1,480

1,546

 

100%

100%

100%

Air

393

424

427

 

31%

29%

28%

Water

455

571

592

 

36%

39%

38%

Other

430

486

527

 

34%

33%

34%

 

 

 

 

Imports

Total

1,913

2,208

2,275

 

100%

100%

100%

Air

444

495

500

 

23%

22%

22%

Water

979

1,159

1,190

 

51%

52%

52%

Other

490

554

585

 

26%

25%

26%

 

 

 

 

Total

Total

3,191

3,688

3,821

 

100%

100%

100%

Air

837

919

927

 

26%

25%

24%

Water

1,434

1,730

1,782

 

45%

47%

47%

Other

920

1,040

1,112

 

29%

28%

29%

For the ITTS member States, the share looks slightly different. Given the lack of border trade with Canada and Mexico, trade through ITTS Member state gateways handle larger volumes of air and maritime shipments. (The majority of shipments in the other category include industrial and electrical machinery, and aircraft and parts.)

Total ITTS Trade, By Gateway Mode, 2010-2012

 

 

In Billions of US Dollars (nominal)

 

Share of ITTS Trade by Mode

 2010

2011

2012

2010

2011

2012

Exports

Total

182

218

237

100%

100%

100%

Air

48

53

56

26%

24%

24%

Water

102

129

141

56%

59%

59%

Other

32

36

40

18%

17%

17%

Imports

Total

256

300

313

100%

100%

100%

Air

53

53

58

21%

18%

19%

Water

173

214

220

68%

71%

70%

Other

30

33

34

12%

11%

11%

Total

Total

438

518

550

100%

100%

100%

Air

101

106

114

23%

20%

21%

Water

275

343

361

63%

66%

66%

Other

62

69

74

14%

13%

13%

In sum, to think about imports and exports without the connection to gateways (There is a great American Association of Port Authorities infographic here!!) is really not doing educating people as to the importance of transportation to trade.  And for the eight ITTS member states, which handle roughly 14% of the US trade (including 20% of the maritime trade and 12% of the international air trade), such trade provides critical jobs.

Source:  All data were compiled from the WISERTrade.  Tonnage information are not included for all variables, so were not included, and there are some differences in the column totals due to rounding differences.

Freight Advisory Council and State DOT’s

May 12th, 2013

The current MAP-21 calls for freight plans to consider outreach to private sector freight interests.  (Sec 1117).   One of the challenges is oftentimes the time scale for public and private decision making is fairly off.  For example, the planning cycle for a private sector project may be five years, while a public sector project may be much longer…

There is a talking freight seminar on freight advisory councils http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/fpd/talking_freight/index.htm  (If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Symoun, SAIC, 703-318-4267 or jennifer.e.symoun@saic.com)

Some other resources on working between public and private sector groups are:

(NCFRP) Report 8: Freight-Demand Modeling to Support Public-Sector Decision Making
I also did a presentation for the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce where I discussed the difference between public and private sector investment.

Aviation, Transportation and Sparrows

April 2nd, 2013

I came upon the following picture of airplanes taking off from Hannover airport, and it reminded me a flock of sparrows launching from a tree.  (http://aviationjustice.org/2012/12/18/ho-yeul-ryu-airport/)

I am not going to lecture about the importance of air travel, etc., but normally, we think about transportation as items of one:  one truck, one plane, one barge, one train… but in relativity it is an ongoing conveyor belt of material, components and people.  It is a system that works, but in many ways, it is a system that always seem to be staining at the limits of what could be, going everywhere in a hurry.

 

 

March Newsletter 2013 – Scuffy the Tugboat and Rivers of Freight

March 11th, 2013

Recently, I gave a speech where I mentioned Scuffy the Tugboat. For those not familiar with the story, Scuffy is a toy tugboat  who travels from a little stream to the mouth  of a large river. In reflecting upon this story, I realized that, when talking about transportation planning and policy, we tend to focus  on two areas: the broad stroke of the system  (what I call the “Big F” of freight) or the local,  smaller shipments (what I call the “little f”).  Oftentimes, it is the “Big F” that gets the attention, such as the growth in international trade or a trade lane between two markets,  ports and/or border crossings. We tend to overlook the “little f,” which includes the local bakery, grocery store, and small manufacturing plant, all of whom receive and generate  freight shipments.

These small firms are important to the nation. For example, there are over 5.7 million firms in the United States, of which 5.1 million  firms have fewer than twenty employees. For the ITTS region, there are almost 1 million  firms, of which roughly 88% are firms with  less than 20 employees. At the same time, there are roughly 293,000 firms engaged  in exporting, of which roughly 97.8% were  small- to medium-sized companies.

The complexity arises when we tend to  think about national policy in the terms  of the “Big F”, but then consider our own  regional needs as a mix of both “Big F” and  “little f ” elements. But clearly, we do not  necessarily think about the system as being  beyond our respective state borders. According to the Freight Analysis Framework, trading among the SASHTO states is the region’s largest freight flow, followed by intrastate  trade within the member states. Regionally, freight movements internal to the region  accounted for 60% of the tonnage moved  in 2010. The other movements consisted of  international trade or shipments with other  domestic U.S. markets.

The need to look at the regional importance of these corridors becomes important,  both in supporting the primary freight  network as outlined by MAP-21, but also to  improving our own regional economies. So,  it is important to the region to see itself as  a series of corridors (or “My River” as Scuffy  would say).

At the end of the story, Scuffy was scared as he headed out to the ocean, only to be  rescued by the “Man with the Polka Dot  Tie”. In some ways, the economic clouds  and waves continue to swirl around, but  instead of being frightened, we should see  this as an opportunity to understand our  interrelationships, largely carried on these  rivers of commerce, which support both “Big”  and “little” freight traffic.

Trade Statistics and the ITTS member States

March 6th, 2013

The growth in exports has been well documented, but normally these are reported as simply tables, showing the growth of trade.  As such, we tend to forget that trade is a sum of many different commodities moving to many different markets.    Part of this is that when I first started working on ITTS, I was pushing the growth of exports to promote regional trade.  And well, exports from the Southeast have exploded, not only from the National Export Initiative, but also from a weak dollar and some movements in certain commodity markets.  The sum is that exports have increased as well as its relative importance to the economies of the ITTS region.

These tables and charts, combined with the statistics that are available on the ITTS website, should be considered as simply an asset to help researchers understand the importance of trade to the region’s economy.

Arkansas

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky

Louisiana

Mississippi

Virginia

West Virginia

Trade Profile – Imported Cut Flowers

January 28th, 2013

Often when we consider trade movements, it’s easy to focus on the “larger” movements, such as containers or bulk shipments. Sometimes we forget that there are other cargos in the system. With Valentine’s Day coming soon, we are starting to see the first of the seasonal peaks in cut flowers (the second peak occurs later this spring). Worldwide, the U.S. is the second largest import market for cut flowers, only behind the European Union.
In 2011, the United States imported $880 million in cut flowers (HSCode 0603), led by cut roses, general cut flowers, chrysanthemums and car-nations. On a year-to-date base, total flower imports are up 9.6% for 2012. Generally, flowers from Latin America arrive at the Miami Airport on cargo planes and are transloaded to refrigerated trucks for dis-tribution throughout the U.S. Miami handles roughly 82% of all cut flower imports, followed by JFK Airport and then Los Angeles International Airport. The largest cut flower supplier into the U.S. is Columbia, which exported products worth $562 million, followed by Ecuador ($147 million) and the Netherlands ($51 million). Customs and Border Patrol Agricultural Specialists (formally USDA APHIS inspectors) require that the flowers arrive pest free.


Since the 1980s, the strong growth of imports has caused domestic producers to shift away from competing directly with imported roses, etc., to specialty varieties, that either have new traits or colors. So when you are purchasing flowers this Valentine’s Day, you probably purchased a bouquet from Columbia or Ecuador that arrived through Miami before arriving in your city.

On a final note, I first started researching transportation early in my career while at LSU. (It was here that I got bite by the “transportation bug”!) The work culminated in a report, “Technological and Economic Factors in Landing Latin American Perishables,” (Department of Agricultural Economics Research Report No. 692, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, September, 1992, written by Roger A. Hinson, David H. Picha, and Bruce Lambert).

 

Jan 2013 News Update

January 28th, 2013

 I had the pleasure of attending the Kentuckians for Better Transportation (KBT) meeting in Lexington recently. As always, attending state-specific meetings leads me to believe that more people are understanding transportation’s importance. My pre-sentation, “Trends in Global Waterways and Implications for Kentucky,” outlined how the world is looking at waterways for freight mobility and economic growth. Although the U.S. remains the largest inland waterway user in the world, we need to consider waterways as a part of integrated supply chains.
 Like most attendees, I spent my time at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) running between presentations, committee meetings, and simply visiting during the breaks. I did participate in TRB Session 522: “Benefit Cost Analysis for Freight Projects: Moving Theory into Practice.” My presentation, focusing on Corps benefit-cost analysis and some thoughts on multimodal analysis, is posted on the ITTS website.

“The Heartland Intermodal Corridor: public private partnerships and the trans-formation of institutional settings” by Jason Monios and Bruce Lambert was published in the Journal of Transport Geography (Issue 27 (2013), pp. 36–45). The paper developed a framework to look at institutional settings and how they influence transportation through six key factors: reason for collective action, institutional setting (public sector), institutional set-ting (infrastructure), interaction between various parties, common sense of purpose, and leader firms. Research for this paper was conducted during the Heartland Cor-ridor Trip organized by ITTS in 2010.

Lambert’s Lagniappe (Jan 2013)

January 28th, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions…

After most of us finish New Year’s dinner, we begin think about what is ahead in 2013, and that often means a New Year’s resolu-tion. Generally, we pick resolutions that are fairly easy to define, such as stopping or starting some activity. Ultimately, one’s success depends on three things: Is there a clear, measurable outcome (lose weight or get to a certain weight)? What are we willing to give up to achieve that goal (will I work out or change my diet)? How will others respond in supporting these changes (do I stop the “cheesecake of the week” club meeting)?  Oftentimes, success depends upon long term visualization of how one will look, feel,  or act once the change is made.

Given the long term question of building and maintaining public sector infrastructure (roads, bridges, locks, runways, etc.) it seems like the nation is struggling with its own  transportation resolutions for 2013. Last Saturday, CNN’s “Your Money” aired a discussion regarding the gap in infrastructure funding. As with most discussions on this issue, the  outcome remained unresolved. The benefits can be demonstrated, but we already have a mature system that works. How much more do we really need to invest?

What is clear is that people are expecting to see more demonstrated value for investment in transportation infrastructure, such as how new investments will produce broad benefits. In the future, performance measures should serve as important tools for prioritizing investments, especially from federal sources, although what measures will be used remains up in the air. For example, do we look at reducing travel costs or improving safety? Do we seek to minimize deviation from free flow conditions or simply to build out the planned network with more integrated intelligent transportation service options? How do we encourage economic competitiveness for domestic loads or exports? How will we fund these projects–through a gas tax, user fees, or some other mechanism? In all things, the ability to carry out any resolution seems to focus on defining, committing, and receiving support from others.
This year, like most people, I am trying to lose weight. (Unfortunately, I did well on last year’s weight gain resolution!) I have some definite steps in mind as to how I want to be at the end of 2013. I don’t think we can say the same regarding any resolutions about the transportation system for next January.

The Mississippi River and Low Water (Dec. Newsletter)

December 22nd, 2012

Today we are talking about record lows in the Mississippi River value with its implications on restricting shipping, while in the recent past we were talking about record high water.  In both cases, this complicates navigation, as mariners must respond  to changing waterway conditions.

While the Mississippi River is generally recognized as a key commercial corridor for the United States, it is normally not understood how that system relates to the modal systems until something happens that forces people to consider its importance to the nation. In the case of low water, navigation channels become both shallower and narrower.  This means that towing companies tend to load lighter or with less total barges, leading to additional costs to both barge operators and shippers.  In response to these lower levels, portions of the Pinnacles will be removed to allow for navigation.  A second rock removal project is planned to begin in February.

Regarding trade, the Mississippi River is a large gateway for U.S. exports, as agricultural products, petroleum products and chemicals comprise the bulk of the export traffic.  (Figure 1.  shows the sources exports that leave the Lower River, and each state’s estimated share of exports that depart from the Lower Mississippi River.)  However that corridor remains very dependent upon barge traffic to bring exports downriver (and imports northwards).  See my presentation on the Lower River.)

 

Exports by State of Origin, 2011 through the Lower Mississippi River, 2011.Mississippi River and State exports

 

 

 

 

 

For the months of December and January, the financial value in economic impact is expected to exceed $7 billion.     Reducing barge traffic generally results in some cargo switching to highways, and not railroads, as the alternative mode part based on studies conducted by the Corps of Engineers and others.  This implies that when a system fails, even partially, it can lead to large modal disruptions in other parts of the network.  There are also changing shipments of grain, such as inbound grain shipments arriving in Port Manatee, Florida.

In other ways, the Mississippi River seems to be part of a general sense of uneasiness in the transportation industry.  The Mayan Calendar predicted the end of the world.  While the world has not yet ended, the low water conditions on the Mississippi/Missouri Rivers, longshoreman/labor issues, changing in global markets, and unease in the domestic transportation volumes; suggest that the future will look different from the past.  In this regard, how do we manage these systems, recognizing that operational constraints may limit our ability to respond quickly, or in a way that is consistent with the previous operational framework?



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