Upper Mississippi River Lock and Dam

What would happen if something were to stop the flow of goods along the Upper Mississippi River? Researchers at the Mid-America Freight Coalition (MAFC), headquartered at the National Center for Freight & Infrastructure Research & Education (CFIRE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explored the costs of failure of the systems that support freight shipments along this waterway. The results of their investigation have been released in a report titled, “Modal Investment Comparison: The Impact of Upper Mississippi River Lock and Dam Shutdowns on State Highway Infrastructure.” The report provides guidance to states around the costs and benefits of infrastructure maintenance and investment decisions.

An important component of the Midwest economy, the Upper Mississippi River is responsible for the movement of over $88 billion in goods annually. This is a crucial mode of freight movement, especially for the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, which rely on the waterway to export their agricultural products and other raw materials. Unfortunately, the infrastructure that makes freight movement along this waterway possible is in a fragile state with many points of potential failure. The precarious situation begs the question whether the region’s states can afford to maintain the waterway infrastructure or, alternatively, take on the added expenses that would be incurred when other modes absorb displaced freight movement in the event of a failure.

Accumulated Traffic in Event of Lock Failure

This map shows how a failure in the lock and dam system along the Upper Mississippi River would result in a cascade of accumulating truck traffic along the region’s highways. The line thickness represents the millions of tons of agricultural exports from the affected states that would be forced onto highways on their journey to domestic and international markets.

“The Mississippi River is of vital importance to the economies of Iowa, the Upper Midwest, and the nation as a whole,” said Sam Hiscocks, Freight Coordinator at the Iowa Department of Transportation. “With agricultural exports expected to increase and the expansion of the Panama Canal shifting the amount of goods that can be shipped via ports on the Gulf of Mexico, the State of Iowa has a strong interest in the condition of the Mississippi River infrastructure.”

[click to continue…]

CFIRE Student Paper Awarded Second Place at AISIM

Javier Vidal Carreras, a project assistant with the Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) and the University of Wisconsin–Madison took the second place award for his paper at the 13th Annual Inter-University Symposium on Infrastructure Management (AISIM). Co-authored by Professor Teresa Adams, the paper, “Analysis of WisDOT´s Maintenance Quality Assurance Program,” earned Carreras a crystal award during the awards ceremony on June 23.

The Annual Inter-University Symposium on Infrastructure Management (AISIM) was created in 2005 as a way to keep the future stewards of infrastructure updated on ongoing issues and research. AISIM is a full-day symposium featuring information exchange and networking opportunities primarily for graduate students, but often includes researchers and practitioners including infrastructure agencies, consultants, development banks, and other stakeholders. Graduate students from world-renowned institutions, who represent the next generation of leaders in infrastructure management, attend AISIM each year to exchange research ideas and information.

The 13th AISIM was held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, in June 2017. With the exception of the keynote speaker, all presenters were students. The theme for this year’s symposium was: “State of Infrastructure Management: Challenges, Sustainability & Innovation.”
Student’s research papers addressed such areas as: Best Practices in Asset Management, Infrastructure Investment, Smart Cities, and Preparing Infrastructure for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

AISIM Group Photo

Students drove the content of the AISIM Symposium.

Adams Addresses Fears and Provides Insights into Future of Autonomous Cars in Madison

February 23, 2017

CFIRE Executive Director, Teresa Adams, PhD, helped answer questions and explore the potential implications of driverless cars for members of the Madison community this week. On Tuesday, February 21, Madison newspaper, The Cap Times hosted a live panel discussion as part of their Cap Times Talks series. Following the panel discussion, Adams spent time speaking […]

Read the full article →

CFIRE Research is Helping Shape Marine Transportation Planning and Economic Development Across the State

January 27, 2017

Wisconsin’s marine freight system is a tremendous asset for both a strong economy as well as a healthy environment in the state. Research coming out of the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is helping multiple organizations and agencies target priority projects as they create and implement plans for the state’s freight infrastructure and economic development. Top among the priority projects identified were the state’s Marine Highways as well as repairs and upgrades to key ports.

Read the full article →

Conclusions of UW Transportation Research Playing Out in Global Supply Chain Platform

November 16, 2016

An innovative approach that transforms a negative into a positive for Wisconsin manufacturers and producers substantiates findings in research completed by the Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Simply put, geography is an issue for Wisconsin shippers wishing to utilize intermodal rail—rail combined with other transportation modes […]

Read the full article →

UW-Superior Transportation Day for Girl Scouts

August 22, 2016

Consortium member, the Transportation and Logistics Management Research Center at the University of Wisconsin–Superior has hosted its second successful Transportation Day for Girl Scouts. By partnering with a local council of the Girl Scouts, Dr. Richard Stewart, the center’s director, has developed the day-long event that brings elementary and middle-school-aged girls to the UW–Superior campus […]

Read the full article →

TMP Student Projects Provide Planning Tool for Cities and a Survey of Drone Uses

July 8, 2016

A tool with real-world applications for city planners as well as a robust survey of drone technologies were the highlights of the Spring 2016 end-of-semester symposium of the Transportation Management and Policy (TMP) program. The students presented their work on May 6th to a gathering of interested staff, faculty, other students, and a representative of […]

Read the full article →