At a Glance
Freight and Logistics
Annual CO2 Reductions:
3,900 metric tons
Steven Washington analyzed the energy savings possible from shipping cargo over water via a container-by-barge service instead of over the highway.
Port Freeport enlisted the help of Steven Washington because it wanted to assess the economic and environmental benefits of a container-by-barge (COB) service between Houston and Freeport that could reduce congestion and emissions by shifting regional freight traffic from less efficient trucks to more efficient barges. The port also sought to combine the new barge service with a heavy-lift truck corridor, which could consolidate shipments into fewer trucks along a permitted route. The overall service could align demands from freight transport customers, local communities, transportation service providers as well as the overall supply chain.
At the start of his fellowship, Washington had the opportunity to visit the barge terminal in Houston to better understand the movement of goods on the ground and how the new service fits into the larger supply chain. The tugboat and barges begin at either Bayport or Barbours Cut, drop off empty containers at Freeport and then pick up loaded containers to bring back. Once Washington attained a deeper understanding of the shipping methods, he began estimating the energy savings and emissions reductions possible from adopting the alternative supply chain strategy.
Implementation of an alternate shipping mode via the Intracoastal Waterway could relieve roadways of up to 21,600 truck trips per year. The Heavy-Lift and COB service could also reduce the volume of loaded containers by 20 percent. Fewer truck trips would increase line of sight for drivers on roadways, which could reduce highway maintenance costs, energy consumption and more than 3,900 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.