Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Fast-Forward: Key Issues in Modernizing the U.S. Freight-Transportation System for Future Economic Growth

Richard Hillestad
Ben D. Van Roo
Keenan D. Yoho
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 162
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Efficient movement of freight within the United States and across its borders is a critical enabler of future U.S. economic growth. The authors provide an overview of the freight-transportation system and the problems it faces, concluding with a discussion of key system-modernization issues, including increasing capacity, making the system less vulnerable to disruption, addressing environmental concerns, and building support for funding.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4899-8
    Subjects: Transportation Studies, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xvii-xxxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxv-xxxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Effcient movement of freight within the United States and across its borders is a critical enabler of future U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. During the past two decades, increasingly effcient supply chains¹ have transformed businesses, promoting distributed, on-demand manufacturing; low-cost retail outlets with automatic stock replenishment from suppliers throughout the world; and homeshopping and home-delivery services responding to Internet ordering. Such effciency is now threatened by capacity bottlenecks in the transportation system, inefficient use of some components of the freight infrastructure, interference with passenger transport, the supply system’s vulnerability to disruption, and the need to address important emission and energy...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Approach and Interview Summary
    (pp. 15-22)

    The subjects of freight transportation, freight infrastructure, and supply chains are broad and have an extensive literature. We focused our search primarily on recent studies of the U.S. national and international systems of seaports, railroads, highways, inland waterways, and intermodal facilities. We limited the current study to ground (highway and rail) and waterborne freight movement, although we recognize that there are also issues related to airport congestion and capacity that can affect the more-expensive goods shipped by airfreight. Generally, we focused on the literature of the past ten years, with emphasis on the past five years, and attempted to obtain...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Evolution and State of the U.S. Freight-Transportation System
    (pp. 23-58)

    Before we suggest improvements in freight transportation and its infrastructure, it is useful to describe the system and its current state. The U.S. freight-transportation system is an interdependent system of seaports, airports, highways, railroads, pipelines, inland waterways, and vehicles that support the movement of goods that are imported, exported, produced, and consumed in the United States. About $14.3 trillion in freight value per year (approximately $40 billion per day) and 21 million kilotons (or 60 million tons per day) were transported in 2007.¹ This translates into the equivalent movement of approximately 2.4 million trucks per day,² or 5.2 trillion ton-miles....

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Determinants of Highway, Rail, and Port Capacity
    (pp. 59-84)

    Effcient freight movement throughout the United States requires significant infrastructure and adequate capacity of rails, highways, and ports. Because many domestic and global companies have transformed their operating strategies to be more competitive by producing and holding less inventory at various stages of the supply chain, they require freight movement to be not only efficient but also predictable. Without suffcient capacity in the system, companies may observe transportation delays to manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and retail locations. Moreover, the variability associated with transportation delays often forces companies to invest in additional inventory at stages of the supply chain. If the...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Overarching Issues for Improving Freight Transportation and Implications for Policy
    (pp. 85-108)

    This monograph began with a focus on identifying the key issues in improving the capacity of the U.S. national and international freight-transportation systems. Most projections indicated that capacities of ports, highways, and the railroads were nearing their limits in key urban areas and corridors and would soon be constraining factors for goods movement, consequently impeding U.S. economic growth. Although the current severe economic contraction has slowed growth projections and made capacity concerns less immediate, even the revised growth continues to imply large future demands for freight transportation.¹

    Furthermore, enhancement of the nation’s transportation infratructure has been increasingly promoted as an...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 109-124)