Evaluation of Shipper Requirements and Potential Cargo Required to Establish a Rail-Truck-Marine Intermodal Terminal in the Twin Port of Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota

Available Documents
Project Summary
Project Report

Primary Investigator
Richard Stewart, Associate Professor and Director
UW-Superior, Transportation and Logistics Research Center
PO Box 2000
301 Erlanson Hall
Superior, WI 54880-4500

Project Objective
The metropolitan area composed of Superior, Wisconsin; Duluth Minnesota (the Twin Ports) and nearby cities and counties does not have a rail intermodal terminal to provide freight intermodal service options for the region. Several fundamental studies need to be undertaken to determine the viability of an intermodal terminal. The research objective results will include: determination of regional sources and characteristics of potential freight; determination of volume and flows of potential intermodal freight using comparative analysis of three measurements: 1) Reebie data, 2) Interview data, and 3) Survey data; Analysis of regional shipper price and service requirements in intermodal shipping; and cooperative terminal development attributes and requirements.

Project Abstract
The Twin Ports have historically been a transportation hub. At the present time, the Twin Ports are served by 25 trucking companies, six railroads, two airlines, and are the largest ports on the Great Lakes. Despite being a transportation center, the Twin Ports do not have an intermodal terminal or provide any modern intermodal service for non-bulk freight.

The Twin Ports appear to have significant cargo moving into and transiting the area in part
because of the community’s strategic location on the north-south corridor of the growing North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) routes. Freight originating in Thunder Bay, Canada and moved to Chicago or the US Southeast must travel through the Twin Ports on either a two lane scenic highway or a rail route. There appears to be the potential to transfer a portion of this Canadian cargo to a marine/rail/truck intermodal system serving these two urban areas.

Task Descriptions

  1. Task 1 – Literature review.
  2. Task 2- Completion of 4 Case studies of intermodal terminal design to include Green Bay or Neenah, Wisconsin’s rail ramp; Auburn, Maine; and ramps designed in a cooperative process in Neomodal, Detroit. The studies will include analyzing how the area was selected, the processes used to market the service, and the design elements that have proven critical to success.
  3. Task 3- Determination volume and flows of regional sources of potential cargo. Analysis will include identification of locations that could be served by an intermodal terminal in the Twin Ports area.
  4. Task 4 – Conduct a shipper needs assessment survey of the target area.
  5. Task 5 – Synthesize the Survey of Shipper’s Requirements.
  6. Task 6 – Explore cooperative features of terminal designs and make recommendations which best suit public and private sector users.

Relationship to Other Research Projects
Not related to existing MRUTC research projects.

Technology Transfer Activities
The education benefits of this research will include the transfer of knowledge to faculty and students from Tioga and industry, application of theoretical constructs to real life situations, positive interaction with the community and establishing an enhanced relationship between the transportation research centers at UW-Milwaukee and UW-Superior.

Potential Benefits of the Project
Benefits to shippers: freights can be loaded at the factory into either a container or a standard trailer and placed by mechanical equipment on and off rail cars. Costs due to damage, pilferage and materials handling would be reduced. Carrying large number of containers by inter-modal rail transit reduce freight costs to shippers.

Public benefits: An intermodal terminal will encourage growth of the regional economy, by
increasing the competitive advantage for existing businesses. The enhanced logistics will draw new businesses. Reduced highway congestion resulting in reduced external costs including noise and pollution; this also will reduce road deterioration.

Project Information

  • Milestones, Dates: Project Start Date: November 1, 2001
  • Project End Date: October 31, 2002, Total Budget: $166,646.00 ($51,000 local match) (12 months)
  • Student Involvement: Student assistance will be required in the survey development efforts, and follow up surveys and postcards, and data entry. Four students will be involved with this project from engineering and planning programs.
  • Modal Orientation: Intermodal – Highway, rail, trucking, and water.
  • Project Number: 02-06