Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Key to Our 21st Century Economy: Freight Infrastructure

One of the most important big-picture challenges, and opportunities, for our regional economy is the need to improve our freight transportation infrastructure. It's not talked about as much as other issues, but it definitely should be. Here's why.

In this 21st century global economy, few things will be more important for any region than access to the global stream of freight commerce. Low-cost, reliable and rapid access will ensure companies will locate and expand here over the long run--which also assures a growing number of jobs. On the other hand, poor access and poor infrastructure will be the fastest way to become an economic ghost town.

Hamilton County, and the region--located on the Ohio, with major rail infrastructure in our midst, and about a day's drive to half of the nation's population and manufacturing capacity--is well positioned to be a major center of access and transportation in the global economy.

And if we make the right investments, we can also help the environment--because rail and river freight transportation options not only cost less, but are far better for the environment than road/trucks. Making the right investments can literally take trucks off the road.

But if we are truly going to compete, there's definitely a lot of work to do to go from where we are now to where we need to be.

In 2009 and beyond, you'll hear the County and region talk a lot about the need to upgrade our freight infrastrucure, including a lot of emphasis on rail, river and intermodal freight. OKI, our regional transportation planning organizations, has put together a nice video explaining this issue very comprehensively. For those interested, it's worth watching.

More to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I proposed for the stimulus money a program to increase the use of alternative transportation delivery to be established in Ohio. I called it CarGO Poole. It's base for funding is the development of computer generated and enhanced means for companies to explore and then use alternative, cheaper means to get their products into, through, and out of Ohio. Ohio is the perfect "hub" because we have ready access and existing skeletal infrastructure with its rails, waterways, air, and roadways connected to all the main throughfares across the country. It envisions Ohio as the centralized "hub" of the country which maps cargo routes/means and reduces costs. I read a study that says nearly half of all truck loads are not filled to maximum capacity. With that in mind, producers of products could CarGO Poole their loads more equitably with a third party transportation depot - the hub. Truck loads would be paired with other incomplete loads and share costs. But, more importantly, the "Hub" computer system would work like mapquest and give an apples to apples cost comparison to move goods via water, rail, air, and ground. With the CarGO Poole features - they can be matched up with others transporting goods without the protective mechanisms of trucking companies that limited shared objectives and increase costs.But the big thing is, where water and rail have no promotions, it would forward these transportation modes. Also, in addition to the main hub that would have the computer system base - mini hubs would be established across the state as transfer points to move cargo from one mode to another and to combine modes. Then there would be sales mean or acct rep who would assist goods producers and maintain their accounts. Mini hubs would be stretegically placed along major corridor routes with access to other modes and in economically depressed areas to spur their economy. Jobs from IT pros, to mid management level to lower income jobs would be created in addition to the transference of jobs from roadways (which increase pollution, damage highways, and use more fuel)to jobs in the rail and waterway transport business.

You don't have to post this - I just thought I'd share my ideas to spur transportation industry in ohio and eventually across the country

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