#92 – Inside Our Industry – One Solution to the Congestion Problem: More Inland Ports

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

Over the past two years, nearly everyone has undoubtedly been affected by product shortages brought on by the pandemic, from any item needing a semiconductor chip to household goods to food. We have shared information about the congestion at American ports. A recent article from freightwaves.com looks at potential solutions to the problem, with excerpts included below.

One solution to the congestion problem: More inland ports
Joanna Marsh  |  freightwaves.com  |  March 22, 2022

Port authorities, terminal operators, railroads and shippers need to collaborate on developing inland ports, experts say

One of the lessons that supply chain stakeholders have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is the vital role inland ports play in fighting congestion.

Why the US needs to invest in intermodal ports

Congestion not only at the West Coast ports but also at inland hubs such as Chicago the past two years has made all stakeholders zero in on improving coordination along the supply chain.

“As you look at e-commerce and how that’s evolving, it implies that you’re trying to get your inventory closer to the customer,” said Mark Yeager, CEO for 3PL Redwood Logistics. “What that means is using multiple midmarket cities as points of distribution, as opposed to [using] Chicago or Atlanta.”

One way to accommodate that is through better utilization of inland ports. Also known as dry ports, these sites provide inland shippers with typically rail access to coastal ports. Inland ports also allow the loading of ship cargo and imports onto trains at coastal ports. The cargo is then hauled to the inland ports, which may be hundreds of miles from congested coastal ports, for unloading and further distribution.

What would investment in inland ports look like?

Inland ports host several modes of transportation, such as rail, via a short line or Class I railroad, and truck. They may also have access to an inland waterway, such as a river or lake, or they may have proximity to an airport.

An inland port’s access to multiple modes of transportation benefits shippers by providing them with options. For instance, by using an inland port that has not only rail and truck connections but also a marine connection, a shipper can consider moving product via barge upstream or downstream during off-peak times.

Full report.