Tapping into US inland waterways

17 Dec 2013
The US is trying to tap into the potential using the Mississippi River and its tributaries Photo: Flickr/Ken LundThe US is trying to tap into the potential using the Mississippi River and its tributaries Wiki/Flickr/Ken Lund

The US is trying to tap into the potential using the Mississippi River and its tributaries Photo: Flickr/Ken Lund

Approval from the US government is helping to clear the way to create the nation’s largest deep water containerised cargo handling terminal capitalising in on the country's inland waterways.

The approval from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the creation of the Louisiana International Gulf Transfer Terminal Regional Center (LIGTT RC) should allow for development of the new container terminal, which intends to improve America’s strained shipping infrastructure and streamline international trade flow as the Panama Canal expands.

This will be achieved by opening up a new supply chain via the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which with its network of over 14,500 miles of inland waterways, reaches across 32 states and into Canada.

“The need for smart infrastructure solutions has never been greater as America’s existing infrastructure is strained and cannot sustain the upcoming shipping volume growth. This should position America to better capitalise on existing resources for transporting goods,” said John Vickerman, president of port intermodal planning firm, Vickerman & Associates.

The problem is that up until now, Gulf of Mexico ports and inland waterways have been largely untapped - they transport just 2% of the nation’s containerised cargo.

Estimates say that the new terminal should expand America’s shipping capacity by more than 1m teu annually, with the option to expand to 3.5m teu. It will be able to cater for post-panamax and super post-panamax vesssels transitting the Panama Canal.

It will also serve to support the US Department of Homeland Security with its goal to electronically screen all cargo entering into the country before being moved on to other ports via specially designed container carrying vessels.

Preconstruction work began on the terminal project in November 2013.