Port of Pittsburgh promotes intermodal barge transport
The Port of Pittsburgh is launching a multipronged marketing campaign to educate shippers about the potential for moving containerized goods by barge on the Ohio River.
After a study, the port commission determined that river terminals have sufficient infrastructure to handle intermodal traffic.
The commission found that some specialized river terminal yard equipment would be required, but that bigger obstacles were the lack of port marketing data and public-private intermodal partnerships to book waterway cargo for multiple shippers and destinations.
“Efforts to promote container-on-barge (transport) in the past in the U.S. have met with a chicken and egg syndrome,” said James McCarville, executive director of the port commission, in a statement. “Barge lines are reluctant to commit to a service without the guarantee of cargo, and container shippers are reluctant to commit cargo for a service that’s not regularly offered.”
The commission said it has hired three companies to determine the scope of the short-sea shipping market in the area, promote water freight transportation as a cheaper alternative to rail and trucking and identify shippers interested in using water transportation. The marketing effort is assisted by an online cost-estimating tool, “SmartBarge,” that compares the cost of moving goods between Pittsburgh and other ports by barge vs. rail or truck.
The study also identified the potential to combine container and steel shipments on single barges.
The Pittsburgh Port District encompasses an 11-county area with 200 miles of commercially navigable waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania