The National Academies

NCFRP 35 [Final]

Multimodal Freight Transportation Within the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Basin

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: CPCS
Principal Investigator: Marc-Andre Roy
Effective Date: 10/12/2010
Completion Date: 5/31/2012
Comments: Completed. Published as NCFRP Report 17.

The Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence Basin of the United States contains a unique transportation system with the nation’s largest rail hub in Chicago; the border with our largest trading partner, Canada; a robust ports and waterways system; and an extensive highway infrastructure that all serve the major industrial and agricultural heart of the nation, as well as providing vital transportation connections to the rest of North America and the world. The economic productivity of the Basin is dependent on a well-functioning variety of transportation modes, and there has been limited investment in new transportation infrastructure, especially the marine sector. The Basin consists of eight states and two provinces, each with its own internal needs; and although there is a bi-national Great Lakes Commission, its efforts have historically focused on water quality issues. Research is needed to document the contribution of the Basin to the economic vitality of North America.
The objectives of the research are to describe the current multimodal freight transportation system and its performance in the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Basin (i.e., Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, and Quebec), including the economic impact of the freight transportation system on regional, U.S., and Canadian economies, and to identify opportunities and constraints in the Basin for meeting projected freight flows. 
(1).  Define the existing multimodal freight transportation system in the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Basin (e.g., infrastructure, major shippers, carriers, commercial navigation and ports, commodity flows, including tonnage and value).(2).  Describe the economic impacts by mode and major industry sector (e.g., employment, tax revenue, gross income) for each state and province as well as the Basin as a whole. (3).  Identify and describe the common recommendations, strategies, and policies in the existing freight plans for the states, provinces, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in the Basin. In addition, identify and describe master plans/improvement plans for marine ports in the Basin. (4). Identify opportunities and constraints to improving regional freight transportation system performance and development within the Basin (e.g., multistate and provincial cooperation), with emphasis on commercial navigation and port operations and the impact of the Harbor Maintenance Tax. (5). Prepare an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 through 4. The interim report should also include an updated plan for the remaining tasks, including the Task 6 stakeholder review process. (6). Execute the panel-approved process to engage stakeholders to validate the results of Tasks 1 through 4. Prepare a technical memorandum summarizing the results.(7). Develop a communication plan, including target audience, tools, products, and their upkeep, to inform the public, decision makers, and private sectors of the relationship of the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Basin multimodal freight transportation system to the economic vitality of the region and the nation, as well as potential improvements for meeting projected freight flows.(8). Prepare a final report that documents the research. 
STATUS: Completed.  Published as NCFRP Report 17.  The report is also available electronically at


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