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8/3/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Nation's future port — and rail — capacity under formal scrutiny


U.S. Chamber of Commerce July 24 launched a major 14-month study of North America's port system and related roads, which aims to examine projected international trade growth, and related effects on port capacity and transportation infrastructure.
Chamber officials believe U.S. containerized cargo imports and exports by 2003 could grow to an amount matching the capacity size of the ports of New York/New Jersey or Los Angeles/Long Beach; over the next 20 years, imported cargo moving through U.S. ports might triple.
"If we don't improve the roads, rails and ports to effectively move imports and exports, we will be faced with a global competitive disadvantage of almost unimaginable proportions," said Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Donohue in a prepared statement.
The study — to be led by the chamber's public policy and research affiliate National Chamber Foundation — would forecast imports and exports by major cargo type; pinpoint any future impacts on ports, roads and railways; formulate recommendations for public and private actions; and determine potential funding sources.
An advisory panel of transportation specialists — headed by former Secretary of Transportation James Burnley — would provide study guidance. The team designated to conduct the study includes TranSystems Corp., Texas Transportation Institute's Center for Ports and Waterways, University of New Orleans National Ports and Waterways Institute and maritime econometric consulting firm Norbridge.
Meanwhile, Orange North-American Trade Rail Access Corridor (OnTrac) Authority and Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC) July 31 began their own three-month study on East-West Coast import/export destinations and related economic impacts.
The study — to be completed by LAEDC and consulting firm BST Associates — would reflect current trade conditions and possible effects on the trucking and railroad industries.
Specifically, the study would focus on determining the exact destination and economic impact of trade moving through Los Angeles' and Long Beach's port; documenting firms that ship goods through the ports; estimating that trade's national impact involving truck and rail activity at the port; forming an economic impact analysis of trade moving through national, state and local ports; reporting job, housing and taxation impacts for each congressional district; determining the interdependency status of each port authority and transportation district; and interpreting trade's growth and social development contributions in respective communities.


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