The Mid-America Freight Coalition

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MAFC is a regional organization that cooperates in the planning, operation, preservation, and improvement of transportation infrastructure in the Midwest.

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.”

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On February 11, 2014 MAFC Program Manager Ernie Perry and CFIRE Executive Director Teresa Adams joined the ASCE NW branch for a site visit of Lock and Dam 8 at Genoa, Wisconsin. This lock is currently undergoing renovation and is completely dewatered, allowing attendees a unique opportunity to see the maintenance on the lock’s miter gates, bubbler system, and walls.

Lock and Dam 8 sees roughly 1500 commercial and 4500 recreational locks during the open-water season that lasts from April to December. The 600-foot lock is undergoing maintenance during the winter while the Upper Mississippi is closed to navigation. This 20-year maintenance doubles the number of USACE employees to more than forty.

Perry and Adams attended this event as part of their work with the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Master Plan and as part of CFIRE’s ongoing support of marine freight in the Mid-America Freight Coalition (MAFC).

WisDOT Economic Development and Freight Section Chief

February 19, 2014

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Madison, Wisconsin The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is seeking an Economic Development and Freight Section Chief. This position directs the development of new state strategies to address the growing importance of transportation’s support of the state’s economy. This involves difficult negotiations with high level officials in other agencies, local and […]

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CFIRE Benefit-Cost Analysis Guide

October 9, 2012

CFIRE researchers recently published a guide entitled Using Benefit-Cost Analysis for Evaluating Discretionary Transportation Infrastructure Investment. This guide uses Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant requirements to as an example of using BCA as a project selection tool. TIGER as a program relies on benefit-cost analysis (BCA) as a selection criteria for grant recipients. Managers and analysts alike can use BCA guidance […]

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MAFC extended through 2015

July 25, 2012

At the recent meeting of the Mid-America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO), the Executive Committee of the Mid-America Freight Coalition (MAFC) authorized the Coalition for an additional three years, through 2015. During these three years, the Mid-America Freight Coalition will focus on aligning it’s research programs and its regional freight study, currently underway, with […]

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Interactive Air Cargo Map

June 20, 2012

As part of the Air Cargo in the MAFC Region (CFIRE 04-11) project, researchers have created an interactive map that shows tonnage statistics for airports in the MAFC region. Here’s a sample: Check out the interactive map for more information about all of the air ports in the MAFC region.

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I-70 Dedicated Truck Lane Webcast

May 31, 2012

June 1, 2012 1pm Eastern I-70 Corridor Dedicated Truck Lanes The $3.75 million, two-phased study evaluated the feasibility of adding dedicated truck lanes through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The Study evaluate if Dedicated Truck Lanes address the congestion and safety problems and needs on the corridor and improve the regions’ economic competitiveness more than […]

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