Research Activities: 2006


Freight Optimization & Development in Missouri – Waterways and Ports Module



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Sequential Number


Identification Number


Matching Research Agency



Principal Investigator

Scott E. Grasman, Assistant Professor Engineering Management & Systems Engineering
219 EMSE
Missouri University of Science & Technology
Rolla, MO 65409

Student Involvement

1 or 2  graduate students.

Project Objective

The ultimate objective of this research is to develop a freight and logistics development model for Missouri that initially focuses on ports and waterways but then is transferable to other modes. This model will reflect commodity and goods movements and needs, port infrastructure and resource needs, and structural and business relationships necessary to further capture waterway potential. The model is expected to provide decision support for prioritized investment and development decisions related to the increased freight and logistics development in Missouri.


Project Abstract

The stage is set for Missouri to become a national freight center. The geographic centrality of the state; the transportation system including waterways, rail, air and highways; along with the presence of major commodity production and transfer systems beg the question: “What can Missouri and MoDOT do to ensure that we capitalize on these resources and circumstances? How can Missouri become the national freight center that the state appears ready for?” And considering the international dynamics, “What should Missouri do to position itself to ensure we can link to and draw from international changes? Where should Missouri position itself to capitalize on the recently approved expansion of the Panama Canal, increasing manufacturing capability and freight movement from India, and severe congestion issues impacting deep-water ports such as Long Beach, California? Further, what can we learn from these international developments and use in Missouri?”

Similar to other sectors of the freight and logistics arena, MoDOT requires information regarding commodity flows, infrastructure capabilities, investment needs, system integration and market constraints. Further, this information must be assimilated and weighted in order to determine the most effective way that Missouri can increase its freight share and ensure further freight and logistics development. Several entities have already worked to understand and develop a model to support investment and decision-making in this freight and logistics area. Within the United States, Mississippi, Texas and California standout as freight development successes. This is likely related to their work in understanding and capitalizing their investments to favor their infrastructure, location, resources and private/public sector integration. Similarly, the Port of Melbourne uses a “Smart Freight” and supply chain approach to increase their role in freight movement.  

MoDOT desires to achieve a greater role in freight movement on all modes of transportation. To achieve this broad goal, MoDOT is seeking a suitable team to review our port system and its role in freight movement. More importantly, MoDOT desires to develop a prioritization approach to improving port infrastructure, private/public relationships, and port investment. Further, this decision-support model should be applicable for understanding and planning for all infrastructure solutions such as rail and airfreight modes. Similarly, the model must consider modal integration in order to provide the most effective solutions to increase freight movement.


Task Description



Anticipated Benefits

Anticipated benefits of this research include:

1.  Review Missouri’s freight and logistics situation, initially focusing on port and waterways. All relevant dimensions should be explored including business and structural relationships, policy issues, commodity movements and potential commodity/product movement, along with overall efficiencies.

2.  Provide a review of successful freight and logistics development models/frameworks, initially in the port and waterways area.  Determine the efficacy of these models and recommend a model or modified model for use in Missouri.

3.  To the technical team, present an overview of port and waterway circumstances and projections.  Present successful models and model components that may be of use to Missouri. 

4.  In concert with the technical team, develop a collaborative effort with the port and waterway stakeholders to identify a prioritization framework to move Missouri forward in this area.  The prioritization schedule developed here will then be used in the activities included in Objectives 5 and 6 below.

5.  Collect relevant data related to markets and infrastructure and apply the recommended model to demonstrate and test the model’s ability to provide sound decision support.  This should include consideration of modal connections to ensure total system agreement. This model must consider a range of solutions that can include:

a. Projects and modal links

b. Strategies Missouri could adopt within the next 5 years to increase Missouri’s role in freight movements.

c. Programs and policy changes that can accelerate or facilitate freight and logistics development in Missouri.

6. Once demonstrated, apply the model to Missouri’s waterway and port system to develop prioritized approaches to increasing freight movement on Missouri’s waterways.  These improvements should include consideration of modal connectivity to ensure a total systems approach.

7.  Using a case study, identify and then execute the model for one other mode of freight movement.

8.  Provide the model/framework and training to MoDOT personnel.

Modal Orientation



Project Start Date:6/25/2007
Project End Date:



Relationship to other Research/Projects


Technology Transfer Activities

Disseminated through, and as approved by MoDOT.

Transportation Research Board Keywords

Freight optimization, dynamic optimization, waterways, ports