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Three universities to study fracking's impact on freight transportation patterns


The University of Southern Mississippi recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration to study the impact of increasing hydraulic fracturing on freight transportation patterns.

The project is a collaboration between Southern Miss, Vanderbilt University and the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The study will be conducted as part of a National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education university transportation center consortium research program, with Vanderbilt serving as the lead.

Recent studies show that increasing production of domestic energy sources through fracking is altering local economies and corresponding freight distribution patterns via highway, rail, marine and pipeline, according to a press release issued by Southern Miss. The universities aim to provide guidance for freight transportation planners and policy makers in determining where to focus on excess capacity, safety mitigation and economic risks.

The Southern Miss team will concentrate on the emerging Tuscaloosa Marine Shale region that stretches across southwest Mississippi into Louisiana.

"The oil and gas boom in North Dakota and other shale plays across the United States has put a tremendous strain on local roads," said Chad Miller, associate professor and graduate coordinator of the masters of science in economic development program at Southern Miss. "If we can predict the impact on transportation in southwest Mississippi of the impending oil and natural gas boom there, we will be able to better plan for the future."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/16/2014