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The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) last week released a study on shipping patterns and industry costs associated with the Panama Canal expansion to help the nation prepare for anticipated impacts on ports, waterways and intermodal freight systems in 2016 and beyond.The first of two parts, the "Panama Canal Expansion Study" found that the integration of Post-Panamax vessels into U.S. trade lanes over time will have substantial implications for shippers, ports and surface freight corridors, particularly along the East Coast, Gulf Coast and states east of the Mississippi River, MARAD officials said in a press release.A more cost-effective service generated by the larger vessels could improve the ability of some U.S. exports — such as grain, coal, petroleum products and liquefied natural gas — to compete in global markets, the study determined."This study can serve as a compass to guide our port investments in the post-Panamax world so our nation's ports can accommodate larger vessels and help maintain our global competitiveness," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.Infrastructure investment and the development of the nation's ports and waterways have been among President Obama's top economic priorities since he took office. Some anticipated infrastructure development needs are being met as part of the administration's "We Can't Wait" economic initiative, which expedites the permitting and review process for regionally significant infrastructure projects, MARAD officials said.