The Multi-modal Impacts of Compromises to Ohio River Shipping Capacity: A Case Study

The Ohio River represents a major bulk commodity ‘highway’ through the upper Midwest, and compromises of its capacity have potentially measurable impacts on the adjoining highway and rail network. While there have been studies estimating the economic impact of lock and dam closures along the inland waterways, these analyses typically assume any modal shift that occurs will be in the context of unlimited capacity of the alternate modes, and resulting additional shipping costs are the result of known differentials in rates. Less common are network-based analyses of the likely pattern of diversion of freight to other modes, and strategic responses by shippers, with the implications of that for additional or changing volumes across highway and railroad modes. This research will begin to address these questions by the construction and use of a geographic information system (GIS)-based multi-modal freight network within the Ohio River Valley, that can better accommodate questions about modal shifts. Specifically, this paper will explore the potential freight volume implications for waterways freight diverted to the Kentucky highway freight system, the capacity of that system to absorb that freight, and the maintenance and congestion implications of shifts like this for the regions in question. As a first step in this overall analysis, this paper will focus on assessing the comparative magnitude of the existing marine freight flows along the inland waterways that border Kentucky. This portion of the inland marine system constitutes the entire northern border of the state, and, along that entire length, a major commodity movement tool. At the same time, freight movements through Kentucky by rail and highway move parallel to this so-called “Marine Highway.” The first goal is to understand the relative magnitudes of the flows on the highways and the Ohio River System, and what sorts of shifts might constitute important impacts in terms of highway congestion, safety, and highway maintenance and operation costs. To do this the authors began with a customized Origin-Destination commodity movement summary supplied, at their request, by the USACE Navigation Data Center. This Kentucky Origin-Destination Waterway Summary (KODW) was constructed as a set of origins and destinations defined as specific reaches of the river systems in or bordering Kentucky, including portions of the Ohio River, Big Sandy, Green, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. These stretches were often, but not always, defined by existing lock and dam pools, and also by the state boundaries of Kentucky.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References;
  • Pagination: pp 136-151
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings of 1st National Conference on Intermodal Transportation: Problems, Practices, and Policies

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01495250
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 9 2013 8:50AM