Managing our busy waterways

Providing safe, efficient transportation for international maritime trade.

Dr. Thomas H. Wakeman III, Deputy Director of the Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens Institute of Technology, is published in the July-August 2010 issue of TR News, the magazine of the Transportation Research Board. The article, “Maritime Freight Transportation, National Economic Recovery, and Global Sustainability: Coordinating a Plan,” was co-authored with Dr. Michael Bomba, Senior Associate at Alliance Transportation Group, Inc. and Secretary of the Transportation Research Board Intermodal Freight Terminal Design and Operations Committee.

Exports as a portion of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) have increased from 5 percent in the 1950s to 13 percent in 2008, and may contribute as much as 50 percent within the next 15 years. In February President Barack Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI), to double exports in the next five years. In addition to service-sector products, exports include agricultural goods, manufactured goods, and natural resources, all of which require transport. More than 90 percent of international trade traveled by sea in 2008, three times the amount as in 1968. Compounded with other shifts in the trade and transportation environments at the local, national, and international levels, the need for new transportation strategies becomes clear. Wakeman and Bomba argue that a strategic plan is needed that considers the role of maritime freight transportation as it applies to economic recovery as well as to a world of rapidly advancing globalism, climate change, and energy volatility.

“Policies are needed to ensure that the nation’s marine transportation system (MTS) will be ready to operate in the rapidly changing environment of domestic and international goods movement,” Wakeman and Bomba explain.

The article proposes a number of different factors to consider in charting a strategic plan - a “road map” for transport that addresses current rural and maritime transportation infrastructure; transport capacity; emerging domestic and international energy and sustainability demands; and the inability of public funding to meet the needs of today’s global marketplace.

“If these issues are resolved,” write Wakeman and Bomba, “the U.S. freight transportation sector will contribute positively to national economic recovery and global sustainability.”

This year Dr. Wakeman was named a PIANC USA Fellow and received a Distinguished Diplomate credential from ACOPNE. In 2008, he was named the ASCE North Jersey Branch Educator of the Year. See Dr. Wakeman’s research profile for more information about his experience and accomplishments.

Learn more about Stevens role in the future of maritime trade at the Center for Maritime Systems. Check out other programs on the academics home page or visit undergraduate or graduate admissions to pursue your academic interests at Stevens, The Innovation UniversityTM.