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Mid-America Transportation Center

Transportation Impacts of the Chicago River Closure to Prevent an Asian Carp Infestation

Final Report
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Researchers

  • Principal Investigator: Aaron Strong (aaron-strong@uiowa.edu
  • Project Status
    Complete
    Sponsors & Partners
  • Nebraska Department of Roads
  • About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    Recent evidence suggests that the Asian Carp (Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)) are within 30 miles of entering the Great Lakes in the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. Asian Carp are an invasive species that has the potential to destroy the commercial and recreational fisheries in the Great Lakes if left unchecked. They are able to out-compete the native species of fish so that commercial species have nothing on which to feed. At present, there is a lawsuit from the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania against the state of Illinois to physically close the link between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes Two options for the physical barrier are currently on the table: reversing the flow of the Chicago River, to its original flow direction, and removing the locks and dams that are currently present and replacing them with a permanent barrier. Each of these solutions would disrupt the shipping traffic that currently exists to take goods from the Great Lakes, at the Chicago port, to the Mississippi River. At present, there have been no estimates as to the economic impacts to transportation from the potential closure of the Chicago River to transportation. Having estimates of the economic impact would allow for a better evaluation of the costs of a closure of the Chicago River. By closing this major linkage between the Great Lakes and international ports such as New Orleans, there is a potential for large impacts on the transportation infrastructure including the rail and highway system.
    Research Objective
    The goal of this research is to provide two pieces to the benefit-cost analysis needed. First, what is the shadow value of infrastructure capacity if shipping through the Chicago River is no longer viable? Second, where on the transportation infrastructure are the impacts most likely to be seen?
    Potential Benefits
    This research will gather information that will help prevent negative ramifications for transportation that might result from the physical barriers options being considered. The modeling framework will be flexible enough to allow for the evaluation of alternative closures other than the Chicago River.
    Abstract
    Recent evidence suggests that Asian carp are within 30 miles of entering the Great Lakes. Asian Carp are an invasive species that has the potential to destroy the commercial and recreational fisheries in the Great Lakes if left unchecked. They are able to out-compete the native species of fish so that commercial species have nothing to on which to feed. At present, there is a lawsuit from the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania against the state of Illinois to physically close the link between the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. The Army Corp of Engineers has stated that a study of the area will be completed by 2015 but opponents state that this is just not quick enough to prevent the spread. The goal of this research is to provide two pieces to the benefit-cost analysis needed. First, what is the shadow value of infrastructure capacity if shipping through the Chicago River is no longer viable. Second, where on the transportation infrastructure are the impacts most likely to be seen. Additionally, the modeling framework will be flexible enough to allow for the evaluation of alternative closures other than the Chicago River.
    Project Amount
    $ 101,670.72