For years, transportation has been largely viewed as a collection of individual modes that operate separately and are funded separately. However, freight transportation is different. Freight moves in a system often using multiple modes, and as global supply chains have evolved, this system must be managed as corridors of freight flows. One area of continuing discontinuity in the transportation system is the transition between waterborne transport and surface transport. The marine transportation system (MTS) consists of the nation’s waterways and the connecting intermodal distribution system. The shippers who use the MTS want the system to be fast, reliable, and cost effective. Given the vast quantities of bulk and containerized goods using the MTS, and the projected upward trend, it is vital that public agencies responsible for the separate elements of the nation's freight transportation system align their investment and maintenance activities to ensure the necessary capacity exists to efficiently move cargo through waterways, ports, and their connecting road and rail corridors. The annual maintenance dredging of the MTS is critical to the reliability of the national intermodal freight system. Rational, objective, multimodal performance indicators could help allocate limited resources across the portfolio of navigation and surface transportation projects. Such performance indicators would assist in effectively gauging which portions of the MTS are most important from a multimodal freight system perspective. A foundation for achieving this objective is the USACE Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) that provides data that can be used in making MTS maintenance decisions. The WCSC collects and compiles detailed records of commercial cargo for both foreign (using U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data) and domestic movements in U.S. waters. Research is needed to develop methodologies that can bridge the WCSC data with equivalent land-side, multimodal transportation data to support system-level intermodal freight mobility, including the identification of appropriate related MTS maintenance investment strategies.
The objective of this research is to develop methodologies that (1) link the performance of the U.S. MTS with the performance of the U.S. freight transportation system and (2) can be used to identify MTS maintenance investment strategies that improve the efficiency of the overall freight transportation system.
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
(1). Identify, quantify, and describe the high-volume freight MTS corridors (including Great Lakes, coastal, and inland waterways) in the United States. (2). Identify, quantify, and describe the intermodal connections for each of the high-volume freight MTS corridors identified in Task 1.(3). Identify and describe the relevant freight data repositories for all intermodal freight modes and outline a methodology to align them with the USACE WCSC data in order to support the development of standardized measures of performance. (4). Develop proposed metrics and operations research methodologies for making MTS maintenance investment decisions that take into account the overall impact on the freight transportation system and that are consistent with the USACE Channel Portfolio Tool (https://cirp.usace.army.mil/wiki/CPT).(5). Propose seven case studies for consideration by NCFRP that will apply the operations research methodologies for making MTS maintenance investment decisions developed in Task 4. Five of the proposed case studies will be conducted in Task 7. (6). Prepare an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 through 5. (7). Upon NCFRP approval, apply the operations research methodologies for making MTS maintenance investment decisions in the 5 approved case studies. (8). Prepare a final report that documents the research effort, lessons learned, and suggested future research options.