Skip to comments.Ingleside may be test site for new freight transport system
Posted on 11/12/2007 3:31:55 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
INGLESIDE — A new way to move shipping containers might be tested in Ingleside as early as next year.
Stephen Roop, designer and assistant director of the Texas Transportation Institute, a research and development agency working with the Texas A&M University System, has developed a freight shuttle that would move a container from point A to point B on rails. The process would be automated and computerized, with the owner of the shuttle programming where the shuttle needs to take the container.
The concept is to alleviate congestion on highways and ship cargo more efficiently, Roop said. It was developed after engineers determined an underground freight system was too expensive.
"Our projection is that it will be economically viable and self-sustaining," Roop said. "It's not considered high-speed transport. We're not shooting for 150 or 200 miles per hour, but we are talking about uninterrupted highway speeds at a pretty low cost."
The shuttles are electrically powered, unmanned vehicles, designed to run on rails, most likely in highway medians. Shuttles would glide on specialized, derailment-proof rails as fast as 70 miles per hour in opposite directions on parallel rails on an automated control system. The electricity cost to operate a shuttle is estimated at about $.10 per mile.
A prototype, estimated at $15 million to $20 million, is being developed. A testing site for the prototype might be built in Ingleside, said Roop, who presented the project to port commissioners in October. A second presentation had not been scheduled as of Friday, but Roop expects to start testing in the second half of 2008.
He anticipates as much as 450 miles of guideway for the initial implementation of the project, which he estimates would be sometime in 2011. The system would accomplish the five goals of the Texas Department of Transportation: improve safety, improve air quality, reduce congestion, expand economic opportunity and increase the value of transportation assets, Roop said.
Those involved in the project envision it setting up along the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor 69, which would run from the Mexican border to the Canadian border [actually, it will run to the eastern edge of Texas --TSR]. Doug Booher, corridor environmental manager for the Texas Department of Transportation, said the highway would accommodate freight shuttles.
"(The corridor) is designed to be flexible," Booher said. "We're not only looking at transportation's present needs, but those 50 years from now."
Freight shuttles also would be an environmentally friendly solution to transporting large volumes of cargo, Roop said. Besides being efficient and zero-emission, the shuttles would alleviate highway congestion, which in turn would help prolong infrastructure.
One of the exciting aspects of the project is that the institute is looking at renewable energy to power the shuttles and the project has a good chance of being entirely dependent on renewable energy, Roop said.
There are more than 50,000 trucking companies and 850,000 trucks registered in Texas, with 10,000 being added in the past 10 years, said John Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transportation Association.
Trucks are responsible for moving 65 percent of the cargo manufactured in the state, about 682 million tons of freight, according to transportation association, the American Trucking Association and the Texas Department of Transportation.
"More than 82 percent of the communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their products," Esparza said.
Esparza said the trucking industry supports the project because it allows trucking companies to buy shuttles and pay a fee to use the rails.
"Freight has quadrupled since about 1993 when (the North American Free Trade Agreement) came about," Esparza said. "This is not going to compete with the trucking industry, but provide options for trucking companies."
He added that trucks still would be needed to haul the containers from the port to the shuttles and from the shuttles to their final destination -- the market. Steamship companies, freight operators and third-party logistics firms also could own shuttles.
The low cost of the project is expected to keep the cost of products low for consumers.
Trans-Texas Corridor PING!
maglev is so cool.
Long distance trucking won’t exist 100 years from now.
I like it!
Railroads move cargo for a lot less than $ .10 per mile
Railroads can move one ton of freight for 600 miles on 1 gallon of Diesel
interesting concept = one of my sons is a long hauler - he says the highways are chock-a-block trucks...too many...we were just talking about the over-congestion and that something needs to be done asap
He wouldn't mind it going in the other direction - and picking up containers at the ports is a bottle neck nightmare...
If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me.
Railroads were all but killed starting 50 years ago - thanks to the teamsters...
had that not happened, we'd have a balance today of rail and road -
The railroads are doing this almost entirely with private, non government funds. (An then they pay taxes on it!)
We don’t need the government to get involved in this. Let the private sector do what it can do so well.
Everybody seems to be assuming that the Trans TX Corridor is a done deal.
I hope I didn't imply I thought they should - I'm a federalist - or Frederalist - I'm also an Atlas Shrugged fan - and read the book 50 years ago -
I'm also a columnist and have a column ready to go on the latest nanny-state scheme - to enforce everyone to use only CFL's by 2012, like it or not and to hell with free markets
He is talking about the median in the Interstate Highways.
So, a more expensive railroad?
Can’t wait for all the hoopla when they decide this new railroad will have to be routed through someone’s backyard.
I've had the opportunity to push a loaded boxcar, by hand, a time or two. Obviously they are hard to get started, but once they are rolling it doesn't take much at all to keep them going.
One gallon of diesel for 600 miles is very believable.
The rail line along I-25 south of Castle Rock CO carries about 25 loaded coal trains each day, each more than a mile long. I never ceased to be amazed at the engineering that makes such a train possible. They are truly awesome.
Why use an automated system when there are so many Mexicans who will willingly hike through the desert just to pilot trucks AMericans refuse to pilot?
I know that that is so close to real life that I have to say that the above is sarcasm.
I think unbelievable in this case is an understatement.
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