According to the recently released M-55 Marine Highway Initiative Study, there is a significant opportunity for the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to carry more oversized and overweight (OSOW) freight, particularly manufactured goods and large containers of agricultural goods. While waterborne freight volumes have increased by more than 50 percent over the last 30 years, foreign trade has driven this growth and domestic waterborne freight volumes have remained relatively flat. Although the US Maritime Administration defined a system of Marine Highways in 2007 that run roughly parallel to Interstate Highways, and has worked to increase freight on these corridors to reduce roadway congestion, volumes have not changed significantly.
A new interactive map shows the importance of key locks on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois Rivers and outlines possible economic shocks all across the country should one or more of them fail. Failures in this system affect not just the states that border these rivers, but many areas that receive goods – in particular corn, soybeans, coal, and petroleum products – from those states