Marine Transportation System

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Transformational Transportation, Part 2

In Green Transportation on July 31, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Persons famliar with Secretary LaHood’s meeting with public and port officials in Oakland tell me that folks might be surprised to know which California official was most enthusiastic  about the prospects for Bay Area marine highway service.  Among those at the meeting were two California cabinet members (Food & Agriculture and Business, Transportation & Housing) and the director of Caltrans.

The Eco Transport project has been in development for a few years.  The business plan is to reduce the need for  truck moves into Oakland by deploying barges to move containers between Oakland and the Ports of Stockton, initially, and Sacramento.  The company notes that such an operation also will make unnecessary a great many empty container moves and the associated costs of fuel and exhaust.   Export containers could be loaded heavier in Stockton because they would not have to meet road weight restrictions.  And carbon counters are sure to like the shrinking of the significant carbon footprint of trucks carrying imports into the central region, and California exports to Northern California’s principal international gateway.  Indeed the company has done its due diligence to substantiate the environmental benefits of their new marine highway service.  And the result has been the endorsement of regional and State air quality agencies.

So which official at the meeting revealed great eagerness and anticipation about the green barge service?  It was Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura.  He and the growers/shippers of the Central Valley are enthusiastic about the prospects for barges carrying goods to Oakland and then on to a ship for the export market.  And when a shipper is looking forward to taking  its goods to the water that’s a very encouraging sign.

LaHood: Marine Highway as Transformational

In Ports on July 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood was in Oakland on July 2nd talking freight and ports.  He was importuned by local, State and Federal office holders about the need for a national goods movement policy.  He was told that infrastructure improvements strengthen the capacity of ports to serve the nation.  He  heard them say there’s a need for equity among West Coast ports.   He volunteered that a California “ports czar” might be what’s needed.  (Although that may not be what the folks in Oakland have in mind.)

He also reiterated his view that marine highway development should be realized and would be “transformational.”  His tweet from Oakland: “US ports provide transportation for the 21st century.”

The key to creating more environmentally friendly ports, LaHood said, is to transport more goods by ship rather than trucks. He mentioned, in particular, the importance of a “marine highway” along the West Coast. “We will be putting a good deal of emphasis on the marine highway in order for us to get trucks off the road and get cleaner air,” LaHood said. (Source: Chris Metinko, Oakland Tribune)

MTSNAC Today…and Tomorrow?

In Federal Government on July 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

The Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council was established in May 2000 to serve and advise the Secretary of Transportation.  Its public and private sector stakeholder members have, for the most part, served three year terms.  (This writer served a term on the council and remains involved.)

The MTSNAC was there in 2001 to provide guidance to the Secretary on the very practical considerations pertaining to cargo flow when the Feds stood up security measures and new law after the Towers fell.  It prepared instructive presentations on global logistics with the intent to explain a little understood system to Washington policy makers.   It produced recommendations for the Secretary as to how new government policies and private sector actions can result in greater efficiency to goods movement.

This year the future of MTSNAC is under consideration.  Will it be extended beyond 2009?  Will it be reconstituted with changes?  Will it be terminated?  Those are options that have been suggested by various parties at USDOT.  The thinking in the Secretary’s Office on this may become known this week when MTSNAC meets here in Washington.  Perhaps its last meeting.

This much is evident.  Goods movement and the global supply chain are playing increasingly significant roles in the U.S. economy and have exposed where our national transportation system, including the MTS, warrants improvement and high level attention.  As such the leadership of USDOT would continue to benefit by having an advisory panel whose members include the non-Federal agencies and industries that are stewards, service providers and users of the marine transportation system.   Pbea

Website: America’s Marine Highways

In Websites on July 20, 2009 at 2:30 am

AMH Website Wayne McCormick’s website–America’s Marine Highways–is devoted to the subject and points you to stories, opinion, legislative and business developments and much more. It’s still a young site but is filling out with good information. It is distinguished from other sites on this subject that are sponsored, in whole or in part, by Federal government.  The AMH website is able to offer a frequently updated slate on current events, the views of others, a wide variety of articles, and other newsy pieces that an enthusiast considers worth posting.  He welcomes ideas as to new content.  The AMH website deserves frequent visits.

MTS Matters

In Blogs on July 10, 2009 at 7:10 pm

I’m transitioning my notes on MTS related matters from the TRANSpolicy blog.   Feel free to go back there but from here on the posts will be at MTS Matters.  More to come.

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