When local residents brag about their smooth and relatively congestion-free commutes, how often do we think of what that highway capacity means to the transportation industry? When you wait for a train to pass at a railroad crossing, how often do you consider the important commercial purpose that rail line serves to the region? Our transportation infrastructure is of vital importance to the success of the TransPORT initiative. But how well do we understand the capacity of this immense logistics network?

With this in mind, the TransPORT Board of Directors identified a need to better understand the region and infrastructure in which TransPORT operates. This study, which was funded through the Illinois Tomorrow Grant program and completed by The Heartland Partnership and the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, provides a snapshot of the assets and market potential offered by the region.

The report contains three key components: an inventory and capacity analysis of the four modes of transportation (river, highway, rail, and air); a market analysis and overview of local freight data and freight users, as well as an examination of industries that have a high potential for increased job generation opportunities; and a study of potential growth locations along the Illinois River.

The study offers several key findings that will assist TransPORT in expanding the logistics and maritime development industries in the six counties it encompasses. The capacity analysis proves the region can accommodate a sizeable increase in freight traffic, the market analysis gives a snapshot of the freight industry in the region and shows what industries are likely or particularly well-suited for growth, and the site selection analysis indicates what locations are available in the region for development and expansion to take advantage of our assets and market potential. Taken together, the three parts of the Supply Chain Logistics and Transportation Indicator Study offer a base on which TransPORT leadership can begin to play to the strengths of the region to capitalize on a booming industry and create opportunities for economic growth and job generation.

The study’s findings are particularly noteworthy when considered in conjunction with a recent accolade the Peoria region received. According to the September 2005 issue of Expansion Management magazine, Peoria was named among the top logistics metros in the United States. Designated as a “Five Star Logistics Metro,” Peoria ranks in the top 20 percent of metro areas in the country and scores 10th nationwide in terms of railroad access.

This acknowledgement, coupled with the aggressive marketing and awareness efforts being coordinated by the EDC, has garnered a significant amount of attention for the TransPORT initiative. Site selectors, port managers, and distribution experts are starting to take notice of the wealth of transportation-related assets present in central Illinois. For more information, visit www.portdistrict.com. IBI