Cargo Transportation in Louisiana

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Cargo Transportation in Louisiana
Transportation in Louisiana
Louisiana’s transportation system touches the lives of nearly every resident and visitor daily, and the DOTD is responsible for maintaining the safety and mobility of a significant component of that system – the state system. The Transportation in Louisiana chapter of the Plan summarizes the key facts and issues concerning the system, focusing on the state-maintained component. This chapter is a foundation for addressing transportation needs through policy recommendations, investment strategies, and specific projects.

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Freight movement is called the “economy in motion,” and trucking is the freight transportation mode that brings the majority of goods and commodities to market. In Louisiana, trucking accounts for approximately 58 percent of the tonnage moved in, out, and through the state (excluding pipelines).

Further, whether freight is moved by air, rail, or water, it is likely to be moved by truck from the point of origin and again by truck to complete the delivery. Trucking is generally affordable for many commodities and has the advantages of speed and flexibility over the other modes of freight transportation.

The performance of the highway system is critical to supporting freight movement. The highway network must be efficient, reliable, and safe for trucking to perform timely goods movement. Along the six interstate routes spanning Louisiana are 13 static weigh station facilities – 10 weigh stations are located in pairs at five locations on either side of the highway median. These state controlled sites are needed to ensure compliance with permitting, safety and weight-related regulations. Recent technology, to include WIM devices, the PrePass system, improved sign lighting, and advanced traveler information have enhanced the operational aspect of freight movement. Along Louisiana’s IHS are 11 rest areas. While each site has available truck parking, a significant demand exists for more truck parking spaces.

Because trucks perform the initial pickup and delivery for most commodities moved by air, rail, and water, the connector routes between the freight transportation modes are critical links to facilitate the transfer of freight. Often these connectors, or “last mile” segments, are under local jurisdictions. Freight movement is generally not a high-visibility issue among the public and elected officials, and as such these intermodal connector projects rarely receive their due priority.

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An efficient, reliable, and safe roadway system sets the conditions for supporting private sector supply chains. To be economically competitive, industries must be able to get their products to the right place at the right time for the right price.

In 2012, trucks hauled 569 million tons of goods worth about $531 billion to, from, within, or through Louisiana. Excluding through trucks, the corresponding figures are $514 million and $413 billion, respectively.  While lumber is the largest commodity by weight, “other durable manufacturing” is the largest commodity in terms of value. The “other durable manufacturing” commodity includes finished products such as furniture, equipment, and machinery.

Louisiana shipped over 203 million tons of goods to other states and countries by truck in 2012. Lumber figured prominently in shipments to the top five regions or states to which the state exported goods. Texas was Louisiana’s biggest trading partner, as measured by tons of goods exported.