NOTES: 12/14/04 - Sustainable Transportation: An Important Driver of Economic Development

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 12/15/2004 - 09:33.

TransTech originator Herb Crowther assembled a powerful group of panelists to address a fascinating, opportune set of transportation related topics of interest to this region - developing ferry service for vehicles and people between Port of Cleveland and Canada, expanding other water-based freight service in Ohio, developing high speed rail service in Ohio, and future concepts in rail transportation. The theme was sustainable transportation.

Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications (Mistra) defines
Sustainable Transportation as the "socially and economically efficient,
long-term sustainable transport of people and goods." Important in NEO, sustainable transportation opportunities include everything from better using our waterways to expanding bicycle commuting -
another example is mass transit via RTA, which has a $ billion impact in this region and offers ecological benefits, now including carrying bicycle commuters' vehicles.

From the pre-event PR:

Civic entrepreneur Herb Crowther, and representatives and
entrepreneurs from private companies, port authorities and other transportation
oriented economic development organizations come together during a 90
minute interactive discussion about freight-related sustainable
transportation opportunities. Shifting freight transport to rail and water can
improve freight mobility and reduce transportation costs while using cleaner
transportation modes. The purpose of the conversation is to raise the
community's consciousness of how much activity related to sustainable
transportation and freight mobility is already going on in Northeast Ohio, and
brainstorm strategies for leveraging collaboration and integrating
transportation initiatives to drive job creation and economic development.

Stephen Pfieffer - Maritime Director - Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Port

If the Great Lakes were located anywhere else in the world they would
have extensive freight, vehicle and passenger ferry services. Reason we don't have this today is the traditional American focus on developing strong road
and rail infrastructures, but that model is no longer sufficient, so it is time to
extend the transportation system by water... looking back to the future, as the region had extensive lake transport in the past. The Port has explored developing a ferry
service for 10 years - developed plan that knows the market and ins and outs of
ferry service. They have plans to use port of Cleveland, have arrangements for
ships, but they still need to secure a port to use in Canada. Have had meetings
in Canada recently and expect destination port Stanley to be nailed down by 1st
quarter '05. They have chosen vessel and operating company and plan to operate
two vessels and make 6 landings per day - 10.5 months per year. - 3.5 hours to
cross. Handles up to 70 trucks, and it is likely just the Ford engine plant
could use the entire capacity.

From the pre-event PR:

Ferry to Canada: Stephen Pfeiffer/Maritime
Director, Port of Cleveland. Following extensive research, the Port of
Cleveland awarded a contract to Dutch ferry operator Royal Wagenborg to develop
and operate a for-profit freight and passenger ferry service between Cleveland
and Canada. With two (or in peak season potentially three) round trips
per day, 800 trips per year could carry up to 400,000 cars and 80,000 trucks per
year. As reported in Logistics Today, in Europe 41% of ton-kilometer
cargo movements is transported by short sea shipping compared to 43% by road
transport. Modeled on best practice in Europe, this short sea shipping
corridor will enhance NAFTA trade with Ohio's largest international trading
partner and create freight, transit and tourism related land side development
opportunities in Northeast Ohio. The Port's research found that
reliability, on-board customs processing and other direct cost savings were the
primary considerations for prospective freight customers.

Tracy Drake/CEO, Columbiana Port Authority - if Ohio were an independent country we'd have the
17th largest economy in world - Cleveland to Pittsburgh corridor is the 4th
largest economy in this country. Ohio has most highway miles in country. As
cargo movement increases over the years we cannot keep up using highways so we
need to move back to rail and water - transportation costs range from $0.11 truck vs. $0.05 rail vs. $0.01 ship cost
per ton mile. Ohio river is at about 30% of capacity so shipping there can increase by 70%.

From the pre-event PR:

Ohio River Cargo Port:
Tracy Drake/Executive Director, Columbiana Port Authority. Conceived as a
transshipment facility for regional industry to promote economic development
and as a multimodal transportation logistics nexus for national distribution
purposes, the 70-acre Columbiana Intermodal Industrial Park in Wellsville Ohio
(with 800 additional developable acres) is located at the northernmost point of
the Ohio River. Flowing south to the Mississippi River, New Orleans and the
Gulf of Mexico, the Ohio River carries 250 million tons of cargo per year.
(More cargo than the Panama Canal.) The Intermodal Park is developing
facilities to transfer bulk and container cargo between the river port, the

Norfolk and Southern Railroad yard (serving its dual mainline track between the
East Coast and Chicago), and truck facilities. It has direct access to
four-lane State Route 7, connecting to routes I-70 and I-76/80 40 miles
away. Located in Foreign Trade Zone #181, U.S. Customs processing of
international cargo containers is processed on site and Empowerment Zone status
provides additional development incentives.

Robert Foraker - CEO Associated Countries in Technology International
Incubator - Advisor with Fitzgerald Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies at the
U. of Akron.

Their Hybrid Electric Vehicles is retrofitter of vehicles - various technologies -
retrofit kits - create economic impact. Sustainable transit technology -
economic growth - Ohio will come back around full circle bigger than ever... he believes successful innovative transportation project development requires:

  1. The right structure - For profit, private capital, asset backed
    securitization, guarantees to the investors, work with government entities,
    strategic alliances
  2. The right project - examples Morgantown, WV - Black River - Mansfield - Other States
    - Ohio has the right infrastructure but it is old
  3. The right collateral - Self liquidating collateral - 325% or more - Bond
    guarantee for principle and interest - mitigate risk - added value - assets -
    cash flows
  4. Action - Bring the industry to Ohio - Sample Morgantown WV - Pick a spot -
    Advisory Founder Group

From the pre-event PR:

Entrepreneurism: Bob Foraker/Industrial Relations Director, XGEM. XGEM
and related companies are involved in a variety of innovative public transit
system and hybrid electric vehicle initiatives in Northeast Ohio and
nationally. XGEM is seeking demonstration sites for its Hybrid Transit
Technology Project (HttP(tm)) and associated automated trolley system.

Q/A - Panel discussion:

Rail – looking to optimize Ohio rail hub – we are the crossroads
for rail and telecom for the nation.

For ferry plan, the contractor is going to pilot existing
ships here but in a few years they will develop new ships with new propulsion
system. They are Dutch, where companies and government is very into
sustainability – they think out of the box – so expect green development.
Consul for Netherlands has been here 25 years and still can’t figure out why
while we are in the center of industry and trade we turn our back on the water.
There is $ billion a day in trade with Canada 

We’re entering a transportation crisis in America – need to
look where there is available capacity in our transportation system and that is
on water – our ports are underutilized – system coming on stream is using water
to move cargo from large ports to small ports

Cleveland port today has one ship loading cargo for China,
and two ships unloading foreign steel – we're very international.

Phil Lane asks why don’t we look into starting
ship-building. The port director references a huge amount of steel we import
and use around here as indicator how big manufacturing still is around here.

Final thoughts – Port of Cleveland President says these changes
we talk about there today offer tremendous opportunities – we can access port, rail and road – not congested here at this point but will be – we have
great transportation models here that we need to put to better use. Foraker says
if there is a demand for what we are discussing then the private sector is the

Herb mentions there is a transportation summit being planned
for the Spring to take these discussion to a higher level. Details will post at REALNEO.


With the Cleveland - Canada ferry, Notheast Ohio and Cleveland will become a great Northern transborder hub for the Midwest. The flow of commodities, initiatives b/w US and Canada will certainly enrich the region, create more jobs and serve as a main cross-cultural center.