Foundation Studies

November 1, 2014

Inland Navigation in the United States: An Evaluation of Economic Impacts and the Potential Effects of Infrastructure Investment”

The U.S. is on the brink of a watershed era where transportation planning tools will be of increased importance. For example, as a direct result of large and unforeseen increases in available and affordable domestic energy resources and other areas of opportunity, there is a growing sense that the U.S. economy can look forward to increasing productivity and attendant prosperity. Realizing this opportunity requires the nation’s transportation sector to adapt accordingly.


This study, by the University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky, evaluates the commercial navigation’s system-wide economic impact, both as it is currently configured, and as it might be through renewed infrastructure investment. Beginning with a basic analytical framework anchored in navigation’s role as a productive input in various industrial processes, and extending through technical choices necessary to implement that framework, the study reflects actual, real-world economic interactions and consequences of the current inland navigation system and one where proper infrastructure investments are made.