My personal takeaway from the very interesting article below and other work by industry experts is that U.S. port and freight transportation strategy is fundamentally broken.
We are over-investing in environmentally damaging port dredging and making other politically-driven and import-oriented infrastructure investments, instead of focusing on improving goods handling automation for imports and exports, and reducing or eliminating dangerous freight transportation emissions.
Should we consider financing automation and emissions elimination at selected ports and the electrification of primary freight rail and national highway freight network links with long-term government bonds, to be repaid from savings on fuel and medical costs?
The Steel Interstate Coalition has an interesting proposal along those lines, the Steel Interstate System.
The document cited in the article below costs £1995, so isn’t readily available. For another competitive analysis, check out the OECD study The Competitiveness of Global Port-Cities:Synthesis Report. Chapter 2 is an interesting report on both positive and negative impacts of ports.
Source: Port Strategy