Understanding the Economic, Environmental and Energy Consequences of the Panama Canal Expansion on Midwest Grain and Agricultural Exports

Quarterly Reports Other Documents Final Report
December 2009
March 2010
June 2010
September 2010
December 2010
March 2011
June 2011
Research Brief Final Report

Primary Investigator

Jason Bittner
Wisconsin Transportation Center
1415 Engineering Drive, 2205 EH
Madison, WI 53706


The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced ambitious plans to open a third lock by 2014, significantly changing the capacity of the canal for inter-ocean movements. Midwest specialty grain and agricultural product exporters will be directly affected as all-water routes are improved and landbridge requirements reduced. The project will analyze data from a variety of sources, summarize industry and public sector interviews, and conduct surveys to develop an nderstanding of the changing transport decisions that the expansion could cause in these commodity areas.


This project will develop up-to-date assessments and recommendations for the Midwest’s grain and agricultural product export industries regarding the economic, environmental, and energy consequences of the Panama Canal expansion. It will also detail the benefits and challenges of potential shifts in commodity flows and markets following the Canal expansion.


  1. Literature review and data collection
  2. Review data from FHWA’s Freight Analysis Framework, HIS Global Insight, and the National Agriculture Statistics Service
  3. Survey and interview industry associations & ag producers
  4. Characterize air emissions across transport routes
  5. Detail energy consumption across various modal options
  6. Provide economic assessments for future export volumes
  7. Develop recommendations, summary findings, & final report

Project Information

  • Duration: 16 months
  • Dates: September 1, 2009 – December 31, 2010
  • Budget: One graduate student
  • Student Involvement: $88,000
  • Modal Orientation: Highway, Rail, Intermodal
  • Project ID: CFIRE 03-18
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