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Organization Expertise

The PCXIN relies upon a system planning approach. The work efforts reflect this LRD navigation planning philosophy on a number of levels. On a technical level, one of the fundamental precepts of our approach is that all project investments are evaluated using a common system database and set of computer models. This is the only means of ensuring consistency in the measurement of navigation benefits and system impacts. On an operational or management level, this approach recognizes that the full resources of the Great Lakes and Ohio River division need to be brought to bear on challenges as great as those we face in providing reliable, modern waterway transportation to our region. This assists the PCXIN in maintaining essential tools and an experienced professional staff, but also allows us to support, develop and utilize navigation planners Division-wide. And finally, on a strategic level, this approach also recognizes that the economies of the Great Lakes and Oiho River basins are part of a larger regional economy rooted to our waterways - founded on agriculture, mining and manufacturing - and linked by an efficient water and land-based bulk transportation system.

 The Center has participated in numerous studies involving proposed new waterways, navigation project modifications, navigation project replacements and deep-draft ports. A list of navigation studies and sample synopses performed by LRD are provided at Navigation Studies.

PCXIN offers a number of services in which staff have substantial experience:

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The Center maintains a directory of major shippers and their waterside facilities throughout the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Systems in the form of the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center (WCSC) data. Survey forms and techniques have already been designed, tested and refined in actual use and are flexible enough to be quickly tailored to specific studies.
The Center maintains a library of mineral, agricultural, forest product, and industrial publications. Center staff specialize in particular commodities and industries that play critical roles in the waterside economies of the eastern United States. Monitoring of these economic sectors is ongoing and knowledge is therefore current.
The Center draws on its contacts in industry and government, and follows regional, national, and global trends on a continuing basis. Forecasting efforts do not begin from a dead start. Again, the multi-regional character of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Systems has already introduced staff to eastern regional economies, the factors that drive them, and the companies, industries, and resources that can act as key indicators in economic and waterway traffic growth. Waterway Traffic Projection Databases and energy data bases maintained by the Center are invaluable tools in tracking production, consumption, and distribution trends, and in identifying major players in domestic waterway and energy markets. Recent efforts have resulted in multi-scenario forecasts for the Ohio River Basin under different future air quality legislation.
The Center maintains a Transportation Rate Database consisting of all LRD shipments by water and least costly overland mode. Rate studies, performed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), include a statistical sampling of movements for which actual rates were collected, analysis of these rates, and the use of standard regression techniques to estimate transportation rates for movements not included in the sample. This database is periodically updated by statistical sampling of movements for which actual rates are collected and by application of transportation indices. Recent efforts include work with Marshall University, the University of Oregon and TVA to determine if rate savings is a valid indicator of shippers’ willingness-to-pay.
LRD has adopted and applied a variety of computerized analytical Navigation System Models for determining the National Economic Development (NED) benefits of proposed improvements to the navigation system. In past studies, the Center has applied Corps approved systems models [both the Tow Cost Model (TCM) and the General Equilibrium Model (GEM)] in numerous feasibility studies. Recent work has focused on development of the Ohio River Navigation Investment Model (ORNIM). System models are designed to reflect real decisions made by the towing industry and shippers alike in response to changes in tow and lock operations, new projects, new fleets, different traffic levels, lock delays, varying levels of lock reliability and lock performance, and fleet operating costs (whether from different user cost recovery charges or changes in vessel maintenance, fuel replacement, and crew costs). Recently a Great Lakes System model called GLLAST that accounts for changes in waterway transportation costs associated with differing water levels was developed for the Great Lakes Reconnaissance Study. Experienced staff are available to adapt models for specific study needs.
An array of computer programs are kept on file in the Center for accessing and analyzing the rich Lock Performance Monitoring System (LPMS) and WCSC data bases. These programs can be readily modified to extract operational data for locks anywhere in the navigation system. The Center maintains a lock simulation model called the Waterways Analysis Model (WAM) for use in accurately estimating lock capacities, defining traffic and delay relationships at individual locks, analyzing alternative lock operation schemes under differing conditions (including traffic management), and simulating the impact of waterway constrictions on traffic for single and multi-lock systems. While the shallow draft version has been applied since 1982, deep-draft versions have been used since 1993 for the Panama Canal Capacity Evaluation Study and on the Great Lakes for the benefit analysis in the Limited Reevaluation Report for a replacement Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Center developed a deep-draft-port version of the model which has been applied to Charleston Harbor in South Carolina and Port Everglades in Florida.
To economically assess project rehabilitation needs, the Center has developed probabilistic simulation models capable of estimating the expected value of future costs given different performance response probabilities and their associated consequences (repair costs and navigation impacts). Center personnel have worked with structural engineers in incorporating hazard functions and event trees for key lock components. Essentially these models maximize benefits and optimize the timing of lock component replacement. Risk and reliability analysis was applied in the Marmet, Greenup/Myers Feasibility and Chickamauga Feasibility Studies and the London L/D and Chicago Lock Rehabilitation Reports.
Past navigation project impact analyses have not incorporated the full range of economic and environmental impacts attributable to the navigation system, such as, avoided highway impacts (air quality degradation, accidents, noise, congestion, reduced highway maintenance costs etc.). The Center has directed efforts at quantifying the external benefits including work by Marshall University to determine the fuel abatement savings for the Ohio River system. Externality costs were also estimated as part of Chickamauga Lock Feasibility Study, though these costs were not used in project justification. Specifically, the Tennessee Valley Authority and transportation specialists with the University of Tennessee estimated lock closure costs resulting from increased emissions, highway congestion, highway and rail crossing accidents, and pavement damage.
Past feasibility studies have applied the Navigation Predictive Analysis Model (NAVPAT) to determine environmental impacts of tow transits. Efforts are underway to utilize newer database management techniques and to integrate the linkages between NAVPAT and ORNIM.
Although RED effects can not be included as part of NED computations, they can have a material bearing on Federal water resource decision-making. RED effects are indicators of project-related economic development and they provide key ingredients for determining the social and economic impacts required for filing appropriate environmental documentation, and RED effects could possibly be used as a basis for a cost-sharing allocation procedure. The Center has used the Multi-regional Variable Input-Output Modeling System developed by IWR for the Ohio River Basin. Recently, the Center worked with IWR, ORNL and TVA to develop a new multi-regional maritime variable input-output (MIO) model. Development included a demonstration analysis for the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway Navigation System (GL/SLS). The Center has directed contractors to estimate the positive employment impacts of project construction areas where underemployed/unemployed is a substantive and persistent. These construction impact benefits were estimated with IMPLAN and in the case of the Greenup/Myers Report, they were included as NED benefits
As part of the Information Sharing effort, the CXIN, through it Outreach Information Website, will continue to develop and maintain public information material, regional profiles, a presentation database and other databases relating to the Ohio River Navigation Modernization Program.