2016 - 2017 Initiatives to Ensure Transportation Efficiency
ISA is leading and guiding the following checkoff-funded projects, working with business, government, academia and industry to raise awareness of current infrastructure challenges and find solutions.
ISA is working with industry stakeholders to develop a commercially competitive and sustainable container-on-barge (COB) circuit that supports the transportation of soybeans and soy products. Plans are to launch the COB Service this year.
United States Maritime Administration Recognizes ISA Efforts
ISA was recently recognized by the United States Maritime Administration for leadership on inland waterway transportation efforts. The America’s Marine Highway Leadership Award recognizes ISA’s role in a collaborative effort to develop a container-on-barge freight service between Chicago and Minneapolis to New Orleans. Read more here.
Marine Highway Project Designation Marks COB Progress
A container-on-barge (COB) service on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers received a vote of support from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last week. The COB proposal, sponsored by the Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals Association and Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, received formal designation as an M-55/M-35 Marine Highway Project (MHP).
While no funding results from the MHP designation, the potential for federal support is improved and identifies increased emphasis on bringing the project to fruition. The M-55/M-35 river system is comprised of the Illinois (M-55) and Upper Mississippi (M-35) rivers. ISA transportation staff serve on a working group facilitating discussions around the COB project in partnership with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., The Home Depot, Ingram Marine Group, and Chism-Hardy Investments.
Domestic Soy Transportation
ISA’s goal is to increase farmer profitability by improving the soy freight movement system to reduce total transportation costs. ISA investments bring understanding to the chokepoints in the state’s infrastructure that inhibits efficient commodity transportation. This project builds on the successes and challenges to date, addressing capacity needs and improving efficiency potential.
Checkoff Funds Help Prioritize County Infrastructure Needs
One of the ways ISA invests checkoff funds to improve local transportation efficiencies is through prioritization studies. A 2016 study analyzed benefit-cost ratios for 10 Tazewell County infrastructure projects. This report presents recommendations, in addition to quantitative and qualitative information, to assist Tazewell County officials in infrastructure prioritization decisions. Read the report here. Similar prioritization studies were conducted in Peoria and McLean counties.
ISA Chairs State Freight Advisory Council Committees
The Illinois State Freight Advisory Council (ISFAC) meets regularly to discuss State freight transportation infrastructure and policy priorities. ISA Transportation and Export Infrastructure Lead, Scott Sigman, was tasked with serving as a co-chair of two new ISFAC committees:
Infrastructure Committee, which will focus on evaluating current and future needs in prioritizing infrastructure investments across multiple freight modes within the state. The committee will coordinate across jurisdictions and regions to ensure actions supportive of freight movement. Rural roads and bridges, rail and waterways are of particular interest for soybean producers, while airports and pipelines are also important portions of the freight network that can be optimized to support the Illinois economy.
Long-Range Transportation Planning (Freight/Rail) Committee, which will support the Illinois State transportation plans through review and input focused on freight trends, needs and issues. This group will also help position the state for the newly announced freight dedicated funding, creating a vision, investment planning, and potential implementation strategies.
Pursuing and driving effectiveness for the private sector in regard to freight movement, projecting needs for the short, medium and long term will be critical for agriculture production and other sectors of the economy. The diverse industry professionals serving on the ISFAC will work to establish the Illinois State Freight Plan as pre-eminent among similar state plans by addressing the issues head on. Further updates from the Council will be shared as available.