HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the University of Southern Mississippi
he Department of Economic Development and Tourism within the College of Business at The University of Southern Mississippi has received a federal grant to study the impact of the increased use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on freight transportation distribution patterns.
The grant comes from the United States Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration. The project is a collaborative effort between Southern Miss, Vanderbilt University and the University of Alabama at Huntsville as part of a National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) university transportation center consortium research program. Vanderbilt will serve as the project leader.
The ultimate goal of this project is to provide guidance for freight transportation planners and policy makers in determining where to concentrate their attention to mitigate safety and economic risks. The Southern Miss team will focus on the emerging Tuscaloosa Marine Shale region that stretches across Southwest Mississippi into Louisiana.
"The oil and gas boom in North Dakota and other shale plays across the United States has put a tremendous strain on local roads," said Dr. Chad Miller, associate professor and graduate coordinator of the Masters of Science in Economic Development Program. "If we can predict the impact on transportation in Southwest Mississippi of the impending oil and natural gas boom there, we will be able to better plan for the future."
Studies show that the increasing production of domestic energy through the use of fracking is altering local economies and corresponding freight distribution patterns (highway, rail, marine, pipeline). The project will assess the impact of fracking on freight transportation demand and corresponding distribution patterns, for the purpose of identifying where excess capacity has been created due to shifts in freight distribution patterns.
"The key word is 'impact.' People are selecting USM and the College of Business to help them understand and solve problems, to bring a new perspective to the client's need for information," said Dr. Bill Smith, chair of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. "As our reputation grows in response to performing our jobs well, we attract more attention from the public and private sectors and enhance our ability to recruit more gifted students."
The Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation (CLTT) at Southern Miss also will be heavily involved in the project. The CLTT, along with Vanderbilt, are part of the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education university transportation consortium.
"Fracking in Mississippi will present great opportunities and challenges particularly on the transportation arena," said Dr. Tulio Sulbaran, CLTT director. "Fracking activities mainly relies on trucks which travel through our roads providing job opportunities as well as additional demands on our roads. The Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation is excited about the opportunity to research in detail the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale"