People rarely know the names of the 200,000-ton container ships sailing across international waterways, but a gust of wind made the Ever Given world famous. The ship and its 20,000 containers lodged sideways blocking the Suez Canal for nearly a week in March 2021. With about $10 billion in global trade passing through the waterway daily, that equates to losses valued at nearly $417 million per hour. While engineering ingenuity finally freed the boat, the Ever Given’s story illustrates something important: the fragility of the world’s supply chain infrastructure.
The Ever Given’s saga set the stage for the release of the Biden Administration’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan. The proposal heavily invests in the nation’s aging infrastructure graded a C- by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The plan addresses multiple sectors, but of particular interest to commerce is $621 billion directed toward transportation.
The proposal’s major transportation allocations include:
- $115 billion to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and streets. This also includes fixing the largest, economically significant bridges and repairing 10,000 smaller ones.
- $85 billion to update and expand public transit.
- $25 billion to support airports.
- $20 billion for improved road safety.
- $17 billion for inland waterways, ports, and ferries.
- $174 billion for investments in the electric vehicle market.
While the plan would impact every corner of the U.S., Langham Logistics’ home state already understands the effects of investing in infrastructure particularly well.
Known as the “Crossroads of America,” Indiana sits within a day’s drive to 80% of the nation’s population. The state ranks first in pass-through highways, fourth in terminal railways, 11th in waterborne cargo traffic, and is home to the nation’s eighth largest air cargo facility. The state’s unique footprint within the nation’s overall transportation network shows why it has served as a proving ground for innovative infrastructure investments for years.
Indiana ushered in its new era of infrastructure updates back in 2006 with the launch of the “Major Moves” initiative. The 10-year, $10.8 billion project invested in new construction, preserved 6,300 miles of roadway, and repaired 1,400 bridges. Most notable was the plan’s public-private infrastructure financing. The state offset the project’s budget by generating $2.6 billion from the lease of the Indiana Toll Road to private companies.
In 2017, Indiana’s General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1002 known as “Next Level Roads.” The legislation generates $1.2 billion in new funding annually across 20 years and $60 billion in total investment for Indiana’s highway system. The fully funded plan comes from user fees generated through dispersed taxes and costs rather than tolls or budget deficits. HEA 1002 increased infrastructure spending by 61% to address Indiana’s 5,700 bridges and 29,000 miles of road.
But the innovation does not stop with funding. Indiana is engaged in higher education partnerships to test and improve the effectiveness of its concrete work, generating millions of dollars in project savings. The state partnered with Kentucky to move a new bridge into place using a series of cables and jacks without closing the existing bridge. In northern Indiana, the Army Corps of Engineers leveraged the private sector for identifying new uses for dredged material, generally treated as a waste product. Supporting it all is Conexus Indiana, the government-funded organization charged with positioning the state as a top site for advanced manufacturing and logistics.
Indiana also engages in cutting-edge transportation technology research. Studies include connected vehicles and platooning, active roadway monitoring, predictive safety management, and renewable fuels. The Truck Automation Corridor Project currently tests autonomous driving technology between Indiana and Ohio. The state also is home to Cummins, the global company leading the way in electrifying diesel engines.
However, despite Indiana’s standing as a national leader in infrastructure advancements, the state still has plenty of work ahead. Studies show freight traffic increasing nearly 25% by 2030 and traffic-congested areas growing by 92% nationally. For a state responsible for passing through more than $650 billion worth of goods every year, that represents a major challenge.
Yet Indiana has the right mindset: infrastructure investments equal industry growth.
The world watched the Ever Given for six days. Addressing the nation’s infrastructure needs can benefit the country for the next 60 years. Just look at Indiana as proof.
About Langham Logistics
Langham Logistics is a woman-owned, door-to-door 3PL and freight management company based in Indianapolis. Langham offers supply chain management, airport logistics services, and domestic and international cold chain and non-cold chain freight, warehouse, and fulfillment services. Langham Logistics is proud to serve on the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council executive committee helping the state craft and execute its innovative infrastructure plans.