A recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute’s Center for Port and Waterways at Texas A&M University reviewed the societal, environmental, and safety impacts of inland barge, highway, and rail transportation. The study titled “A Modal Comparison of Freight Transportation Effects on the General Public” can be found at www.nationalwaterwaysfoundation.org/study/FinalReportTTI.pdf.
The main findings were that a river barge can provide the same capacity as 1,050 trucks and 216 rail cars. Barges were the most cost effective transportation when comparing fuel usage. In addition, barge transportation has been safer than rail and highway transportation when comparing injuries and death.
One of the critical issues facing barge transportation is the deteriorating and outdated lock and dam systems on our waterways. It is imperative US waterways, highways, and rail are updated and modernized to keep US agriculture at a comparative advantage in a global marketplace.