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change rather than replace rail and truck shipments, so they seem to have gained support from
groups that represent competing modes of transit.
“Marine and rail freight have co-existed since the 1830s when the rail industry began, said Holly
Arthur, a representative for the Association of American Railroads. “While shipping via water can be
seen as competition, it also is a significant customer segment for railroads.”
According to Arthur, intermodal transport — the movement of shipping containers by multiple
methods, such as from ship to rail — represents 21 percent of rail revenue in the United States, a
figure that is continuing to grow. If boat traffic increases, the rail industry stands to benefit.
Boats can’t usually pull up to a factory loading dock or back into the parking lot of your local big-box
store, so trucks are safe, too. “At the end of the day, your shipment winds up at a port, so it has to go
on a truck,” said Matsuda. In addition, boats tend to travel m ore slowly than trucks (though they
usually don’t have to stop overnight for rest). Often, short sea shipping services run on a weekly
schedule and, said Matsuda, “It’s hard to sell a weekly service when you’re dealing with folks who
need things a little more quickly.”
In a country where the majority of freight travels along marine highways, Matsuda envisions some
long-haul truckers working instead in freight yards or in regional distribution, while others remain on 29 | P a g e Inland Waterways Affirmative BDL the roads with cargo that can’t wait for a slower-moving boat. If estimates of 70 percent growth in the
freight industry over the next 10 years are accurate, trucks will always be in high demand.
According to Matsuda, the U.S. DOT chose to refer to the project as Marine Highways rather than
short sea shipping because the network of waterways would often be parallel to an existing interstate
highway. “We wanted to draw a parallel with the interstate system, if you can draw a highway on a
map, that you can draw a waterway along the map — maybe M-95 — and it’ll get you to the same
place,” he said.
One kind of freight that Matsuda thinks is best suited for the water is hazardous material. “With
hazardous materials, we only see an upside for getting them out of populated areas,” he said. While a
lot of bulk hazmat cargo is shipped, that which fits into a container is still largely transported on
packed highways. “Anything we can get off the highway is obviously a benefit, if it makes sense to
do,” he said. “It’s less gas per mile, but it also helps the people on the roads.”
Better for the Environment
In addition to transporting hazardous materials outside of populated areas, a clear advantage of short
sea shipping is the reduced environmental impact of moving freight on ships.
According to Carrie Denning, a researcher at the Environmental Defense Fund who coauthored the
report The Good Haul: Freight Innovations for the 21st Century...
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This document was uploaded on 02/06/2014.
- Spring '14