Economic and Environmental Impacts of Modal Shifts from the Mississippi River and Duluth Superior to Land Transportation

Principal Investigator(s):

Jerry Fruin, Former Professor, Applied Economics

Project summary:

Proposals to close the Minneapolis Upper Harbor and convert the area to housing, light industry and recreational uses would eliminate the barge movement of commodities to/from the Upper Harbor. Several proposals have assumed that this would also eliminate associated freight movement through this area of Minneapolis. However, there would still be a need to move materials such as sand and gravel, cement, steel products, and other construction materials into Minneapolis, and scrap metals from Minneapolis. Truck movements of grain, fertilizer and other commodities from/to northwest of Minneapolis would be rerouted to downstream harbors. This study estimates the monetary and public externality costs imposed by this 'modal shift' from barge to truck, including haulage costs, differences in fuel consumption, changes in air emissions, highway congestion impacts, highway accident impacts, and changes in highway maintenance requirements. Coefficients from the FHWA Highway Cost Allocation Study (HCAS) are used to monetize the estimated public costs. Results from the most likely scenario indicate an addition of 66,000 truckloads traveling 1.2 million miles in the metro area each year. Increases in transport costs to shippers or customers exceed $4 million annually, while public cost increases estimated with the HCAS coefficients exceed $1 million annually.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2002037
  • Start date: 10/2002
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Economics, Planning