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Transportation in the Pacific Northwest: The Good, the bad, and the‌

Jeremy L. Sage, Asst. Director Freight Policy Transportation Institute School of Economic Sciences Washington State University


Transportation in the Pacific Northwest: The Good, the bad, and the‌ not so ugly Jeremy L. Sage, Asst. Director Freight Policy Transportation Institute School of Economic Sciences Washington State University


The Sex Life of the Anchovy


Overview • Historical Development of the Transportation Systems of the Pacific Northwest. • Wheat and beyond • Evolution of a Multimodal System

• Transport Today • •

The Good The Bad

• Transportation Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century. • …the not so ugly future


Linking the Fields to the Tables • From the Northwest’s first wheat crop planted at Fort Vancouver in 1825, and producing 1,500 bushels in 1829.


Linking the Fields to the Tables • To Whitman County leading the nation, as the #1 wheatproducing county every year since 1978


Steamboats on the Columbia-Snake River System • Taming the Rivers: Countering white waters with imagination From mule trains around the cascades of the Columbia  To The Oregon Steam Navigation Company’s small locomotive.  To the 1876 USACE authorization of a canal, allowing paddlewheels to traverse more of the river. 

Bailey Gatzert near the Cascade Locks, circa 1910


Laying the Rail • The river system appeared to be heading full steam ahead. • Ultimately, it could not compete with the speed, efficiency, and greater carrying capacity of the trains. • But that was then….


Laid it—Paved it—Consuming it


Today’s Intermodality


Today’s Intermodality How do we move wheat? Well, that depends on where you start.


Dual Nature of Today’s Inland Waterways • Complement and Competitor No grain is grown ‘on the river’ “water compelled rail rates”

• • •

Both shippers who use the river and those who chose not to may benefit through lower rates.


Moving goods down, and up the river.


…The Good...

Global Gateways

Urban Goods Movement

Rural Economies


Weight of Shipments by Transportation Mode


Weight of Shipments by Transportation Mode


Weight of Shipments by Transportation Mode


Weight of Shipments by Transportation Mode


Mode Share of Tonnage and Total Tonnage by Distance Band


Mode Share of Value and Total Value by Distance Band


‌The Good...

NORTHEAST Regional domestic product: $6.3 billion Wholesale and Retailer 60,009 Maufacturing 16,759 Construction 16,751 Agriculture and Timber 5,964 Transportation 5,614 TOTAL JOBS 105,097

NORTHWEST Regional domestic product: $6.4 billion Wholesale and Retailer 38,711 Maufacturing 14,379 Construction 13,634 Agriculture and Timber 8,484 Transportation 2,896 TOTAL JOBS 78,104

CENTRAL Regional domestic product: $10.8 billion Wholesale and Retailer 76,864 Maufacturing 20,986 Construction 19,105 Agriculture and Timber 55,085 Transportation 7,423 TOTAL JOBS 179,463

PUGET SOUND Regional domestic product: $91.9 billion Wholesale and Retailer 465,599 Maufacturing 232,897 Construction 130,914 Agriculture and Timber 47,422 Transportation 15,888 TOTAL JOBS 892,720

SOUTHEAST COASTAL Regional domestic product: $2.5 billion Wholesale and Retailer 21,391 Maufacturing 8,752 Construction 6,763 Agriculture and Timber 6,526 Transportation 2,462 TOTAL JOBS 45,894

SOUTHWEST

Regional domestic product: $3.2 billion Wholesale and Retailer 19,236 Maufacturing 18,511 Construction 10,547 Agriculture and Timber 5,337 Transportation 3,085 TOTAL JOBS 56,716

Regional domestic product: $7.7 billion Wholesale and Retailer 53,339 Maufacturing 21,949 Construction 18,153 Agriculture and Timber 6,353 Transportation 7,046 TOTAL JOBS 106,840 Freight Dependent Industries: 2010 IMPLAN data


Staggers Act - 1980


Motor Carrier Act - 1980 • Mergers • Rate and Route Freedom

• Variation in Firm Size


….The Bad….


Laid it—Paved it—Consuming it


….The Bad….

• Structural Failures • •

Bridges Locks

• In 2009, the corps had to shut down The Dalles Dam for emergency repairs because of wear and tear on the gates.


….The Bad…. • Increasing weather induced closures •

In excess of $74 million of economic impact to the state from two road closures alone in the winter of 2007-08.


….The Bad…. •

Roadway Congestion


….The Bad…. •

Roadway Congestion


….The Bad…. • •

Railway Capacity Railway Abandonment


….the not so ugly… ….or at least it doesn’t have to be…

Washington State remains the most trade dependent state in the Nation: • Exports Account for more than 30% of new jobs created in the last 30 years

7,000 Miles of Highway

75 DeepWater Ports


….the not so ugly… ….or at least it doesn’t have to be…

Though challenges certainly exist, opportunities abound for Washington’s Intermodal System.


….the not so ugly… ….or at least it doesn’t have to be…

Lynchburg, VA: Crude Oil derailed


….the not so ugly… ….or at least it doesn’t have to be…

The Market is moving, can Policy and Standards keep pace?

Lac-Megantic, Quebec: Crude Oil derailed


….the not so ugly… ….or at least it doesn’t have to be…

“Our current regulations were written long before anyone could imagine how much oil would move over rail, changes in tank car design are long overdue.” Sen. Patty Murray

Lac-Megantic, Quebec: Crude Oil derailed


….the not so ugly… With Capacity already on the mind, how can we effectively meet the challenges and opportunities created by oil and coal on the rail lines?

“There is a perception that oil traffic is displacing ag traffic, and that’s causing and enormous amount of losses for producers.” ND Public Service Commission


“Shipping delays on BNSF and Canadian Pacific have resulted in at least $67 million in lost farm income on crops between January and April 2014.� ND Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

NDSU pulls study cited in hearings on rail delays!


NDSU study may have been hasty, but… • Shippers have legitimate fears of getting their commodities to market. • Fear of already low prices (given large crop expectations) may fall further.

• Historic reliability and cost-effectiveness of the US intermodal system has traditionally provided US farmers with a comparative advantage over foreign producers. •

That C.A. is in doubt currently.


NDSU study may have been hasty, but… • Not only are there delays, but: • Lack of Inspectors • International Longshore and Warehouse Union picketing

• Ripples through supply chains • Push for full units of oil or grain, increases difficulty of obtaining empty containers for hay, forest products, fruit • Cold Train gone. Cited on-time reliability, and transit time. • Expected record tree fruit crop.


The Sex Life of the Anchovy


For more Information:

WPPA 2014 Transportation & Infrastructure Seminar - Agricultural Shipping Issues, Sage  
WPPA 2014 Transportation & Infrastructure Seminar - Agricultural Shipping Issues, Sage  
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