U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, June 29th, 2012



The United States, its navigation industry and the customers it serves face a potential opportunity. The continued expansion of international trade combined with the building of ever larger ships is reducing ocean transportation costs. However, the extent to where these larger vessels will call at U.S. ports will depend on many factors, including the strategic decisions made by the industry and the Nation, as well as decisions made by the Panama Canal Authority and other parties.

The Committees on Appropriations of the Congress have asked the U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources (IWR) to submit a report on “how the Congress should address the critical need for additional port and inland waterways modernization to accommodate post-Panamax vessels.” This report identifies the needs and presents options for meeting the infrastructure needs for U.S. ports and inland waterways.

Post-Panamax vessels will call at U.S. ports in increasing number, either across the Atlantic or through the Panama Canal. How will this affect trade to the U.S., especially along the East and Gulf Coasts? To understand this, we first need to understand that some U.S. ports are already able to accommodate these vessels and others will soon be able to do so. We then need to consider the condition and capacity of some of our other major ports, in order to understand why they do not and will not soon be able to accommodate these vessels. Finally, we will need to consider the condition and capacity of the multi-modal infrastructure that supports cargo movements to and from all of these ports.

There is uncertainty concerning the way in which markets will respond to the deployment of post-Panamax vessels. However, with a general picture of the current condition and capacity of our major ports and the multi-modal infrastructure that serves them we can begin to understand the extent to which these vessels may provide an opportunity for further investment, so that options can be developed to move forward.

Given the time available to complete this report, IWR relied on currently available data and could not assess impacts through techniques such as the analysis of specific economic and environmental impacts or the economic modeling of alternative future scenarios.

Read full report (PDF) here: U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization

About the The U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources (IWR)
“The U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources (IWR) was formed to provide forward-looking analysis and research in developing planning methodologies to aid the Civil Works program. Since its beginnings in 1969, the Institute was envisioned to provide the Corps with long-range planning capabilities to assist in improving the civil works planning process. Today the Institute continues to provide the Civil Works program with a variety of products to enhance water resources development.”


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