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Unformatted text preview: a shipping company that moves
containers by sea between Port Manatee, Florida, and Brownsville, Texas, already saves 70,000
gallons of fuel on each one-way voyage compared to a comparable truck journey.
Those fuel savings translate into fewer emissions in population centers. “One way to reduce pollution
emissions in some regions will be to substitute multiple truck trips with single barge trips via coastal
shipping routes that meet robust environmental performance standards,” she said.
Even with the obvious fuel savings, Denning says that marine routes could still pose serious
environmental consequences. Ports themselves are notorious for high levels of emissions from
machinery used to move freight. To truly be environmentally responsible, ports along a marine
highway would have to implement solutions such as electric forklifts and yard trucks — many of which
are already in place at the Port of Los Angeles.
Additionally, highways would have to be designated clear of environmentally sensitive areas. “Coastal
shipping is not a panacea,” she said. “Depending on the highway route, there could be serious
ramifications for marine life if dredging is required, if migratory patterns are disrupted, or if additional
infrastructure is needed that interferes with certain marine ecosystems.”
A centerpiece of the European short sea shipping industry is a small freighter known as a RoRo,
short for “roll on, roll off.” While larger ships require cranes to lift containers onboard, RoRos pull
straight up to a dock where trucks can drive onboard and unload freight containers. Because they’re
smaller, they don’t require channels as deep as larger ships, and can minimize the need for dredging. 30 | P a g e Inland Waterways Affirmative BDL “The ship literally pulls up, lays down a ramp and the trucks drive on and off it,” said Matsuda. “From
an operating standpoint, you don’t need cranes, you don’t need to pay the skilled workers — but you
need people to drive the trucks on and off the ship.”
Rather than investing in the installation of cranes and other equipment at small ports, Matsuda says
that RoRos could follow what he calls the “Southwest Airlines model,” after the carrier that started off
flying into secondary airports. Smaller RoRos could bypass major ports and travel through shallower
waterways to inland cities.
Matsuda just saw such a system in action at the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “It is just
incredible to see these relatively small, long, thin, self-propelled ships that can carry 20 or 30
containers that kind of zip around in this massive port after the giant container ship has been
offloaded,” he said. “They go up the rivers into Europe or around the coast to other ports.”
Would such a system be possible in the United States? There may not be a choice. With roadways in
major cities already crammed with freight traffic and the demand for freight ever increasing, putting
freight on the water may be the most sensible solution for com panies that need to move goods from
here to there. Matsuda says a political climate that’s focused on creating jobs and helping the
environment also will support the cause.
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This document was uploaded on 02/06/2014.
- Spring '14