Water

While the trucking industry is the top transporter of freight in the MAFC and the United States, water transportation plays a vital role in the transportation of heavier bulk commodities. The MAFC uses the inland waterways and the Great Lakes to ship and receive goods regionally and to reach international markets through the Mississippi River and the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Water transportation exhibits an extreme competitive advantage in the transport of heavy bulk goods over long distances.  For example, a standard dry cargo barge has the carrying capacity of 70 trucks or 2 unit trains. Furthermore, inland marine transportation gets 576 ton-miles per gallon of fuel compared to 413 for rail and 155 for truck.

The MAFC has access to 5,610 miles of navigable waterways which constitutes 22.2 percent of inland waterways (Inland Waterway Mileage: 2008, nd). Furthermore, the MAFC is the largest user of the Great Lakes to move freight.  The inland waterways and the Great Lakes support thousands of ports that ship and receive various amounts of tonnages.  In order to place port usages into a national context this study will compare the total tonnages of MAFC ports to the top 150 ports in the United States. Table 1 shows that of the Great Lakes ports that are in the top 150 national ports ranked by tonnage. The MAFC has all but one of the Great Lakes ports that are ranked in the top 150 ports by tonnage for 2010.  In a regional and national context, when the Great Lakes are referred to as a freight asset, it is almost exclusively an advantage for the MAFC.

Table 1: US Great Lakes Ports in a National Context

Port US Rank Total (‘000 Tons) Domestic (‘000 Tons) Foreign (‘000 Tons) Imports (‘000 Tons) Exports (‘000 Tons)
Duluth-Superior, MN and WI 18 36,598 26,936 9,662 331 9,331
Chicago, IL 37 18,534 15,382 3,152 2,080 1,073
Two Harbors, MN 42 13,877 13,392 486 17 468
Detroit, MI 43 13,406 10,793 2,614 2,414 200
Cleveland, OH 48 10,791 9,218 1,573 1,509 64
Toledo, OH 49 10,720 3,927 6,793 3,804 2,989
Indiana Harbor, IN 50 10,169 9,902 267 267
Presque Isle, MI 55 8,721 6,447 2,273 17 2,257
St. Clair, MI 58 7,988 7,988
Gary, IN 59 7,831 7,608 223 165 58
Ashtabula, OH 65 6,346 3,811 2,535 1,313 1,222
Silver Bay, MN 66 6,191 6,139 52 52
Burns Waterway Harbor, IN 68 6,055 5,670 385 257 128
Stoneport, MI 69 5,649 5,138 511 3 507
Calcite, MI 74 4,760 4,199 562 10 551
Escanaba, MI 76 4,736 4,524 212 46 165
Port Inland, MI 77 4,695 4,373 321 321
Conneaut, OH 80 3,558 3,415 143 143
Port Dolomite, MI 84 3,249 2,703 546 546
Marblehead, OH 92 2,588 2,170 418 49 369
Milwaukee, WI 96 2,435 1,323 1,112 997 115
Monroe, MI 97 2,413 2,401 12 12
Sandusky, OH 99 2,304 990 1,314 36 1,278
Alpena, MI 101 2,148 1,928 220 88 132
Green Bay, WI 109 1,910 1,752 157 157
Fairport Harbor, OH 117 1,498 1,232 267 192 75
Muskegon, MI 118 1,479 1,325 154 154
Buffalo, NY 126 1,298 611 687 376 312
Buffington, IN 129 1,128 866 263 263
Drummond Island, MI 131 1,069 795 274 274
Marquette, MI 136 1,010 793 216 216
Lorain, OH 144 853 645 208 128 80
Grand Haven, MI 146 763 696 67 67
Huron, OH 150 717 717

Source: WATERBORNE COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES, 2010

On a state-by-state basis the MAFC is well represented in total water-based freight compared to the rest of the United States.  Table 2 places MAFC states in a larger national comparison by totaling state water-based freight and comparing the MAFC to the United States.  Aggregating the MAFC states into a total waterborne tonnage requires more than a summation, because all intra-MAFC tonnage would be counted twice.  For the purposes of this comparison, the total adjusted MAFC tonnage is 356 billion tons.

Table 2: All Water-based Freight in a National Context by State

Domestic Foreign
State Shipping (‘000 tons) Receiving (‘000 tons) Intrastate (‘000 tons) Shipping (‘000 tons) Receiving (‘000 tons) Total Tonnage (‘000 tons) US Rank
Illinois 79,209 14,725 10,996 1,073 2,080 108,083 6
Ohio 19,996 55,198 10,488 6,131 7,174 98,986 8
Kentucky 46,032 26,646 18,679 0 0 91,357 9
Indiana 15,613 41,041 3,013 454 684 60,805 14
Michigan 18,374 21,225 10,059 5,283 4,127 59,067 15
Minnesota 28,079 6,907 994 4,261 167 40,408 20
Wisconsin 21,184 5,852 231 5,704 1,523 34,494 22
Missouri 22,308 5,352 5,293 0 0 32,953 24
Iowa 6,958 2,712 800 0 0 10,470 33
Kansas 232 7 0 0 0 239 39

Source: WATERBORNE COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES, 2010

Going beyond the navigable waterway network and the tonnage it moves, it is important to consider the support businesses for the maritime freight industry.  Figure 1 displays the navigable waterways and the Great Lakes shipping routes from the US Army Corps of Engineers and water-related businesses in the MAFC.  The data reported is the result of a query of ESRI’s Business Analyst data set. The businesses selected are constrained to companies that move freight by water and does not include support industries like barge or tug repair, dredging companies, or port construction.

Figure 1: Water Infrastructure and Related Businesses in the MAFC

Source: Esri Business Analyst, 2011

Table 3 displays the number of businesses and total employment by state and for the MAFC as a whole for maritime freight.  The maritime freight industry, as expected, has fewer businesses and employees than the trucking industry.  The explanation of lower maritime employment is twofold; first the total tonnage moved by water is lower than trucking. Also there is a theoretical argument for water transportation relying on labor less than trucking and being more reliant on capital. Unfortunately the Bureau of Labor statistics does not collect labor productivity data on the maritime freight industry.

Table 3: Maritime Freight-related Businesses

State Water Freight Employment Number of Water Freight Businesses Total State Employment Total State Businesses
Illinois 1,082 122 5,884,453 476,575
Indiana 539 39 2,938,335 222,320
Iowa 186 28 1,607,190 136,378
Kansas 40 8 1,407,272 123,790
Kentucky 638 25 1,819,898 153,924
Michigan 272 81 4,305,125 371,368
Minnesota 289 73 2,888,004 221,993
Missouri 430 44 2,883,801 239,690
Ohio 364 75 5,634,785 413,878
Wisconsin 227 54 3,063,309 244,656
MAFC 4,067 549 32,432,172 2,604,572

Source: Esri Business Analyst, 2011

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