Wisconsin

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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Wisconsin Port Worker

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. [click to continue…]

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 […]

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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 […]

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WisDOT Engineering Interships

November 13, 2013

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Madison, Wisconsin The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is seeking applications for engineering internship positions for Summer 2014. The Engineering Intern is responsible for performing technical and/or engineering support duties related to the functions of the multi-modal transportation systems, in such areas as project development, technical services, systems planning and operations […]

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WisDOT Civil Engineer Transportation Supervisor: Railroad Engineer and Safety

November 11, 2013

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Madison, Wisconsin The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is seeking  a Civil Engineer Transportation Supervisor: Railroad Engineer and Safety in the Bureau of Transit, Local Roads, Railroads, and Harbors. For more information, and to apply, consult the position description. The deadline for applications is 11:59pm on Monday, November 18.

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CFIRE to Lead Development of Wisconsin Ports Master Plan

October 22, 2013

CFIRE has joined a partnership that includes the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), and the Port of Green Bay to develop a master plan for Wisconsin ports. “Marine and freight transportation are key economic drivers for our state,” said CFIRE researcher […]

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