September 16, 2021

Zhenhua Chen Receives Department of Agriculture Grant

Zhenhua Chen Receives Department of Agriculture Grant to Study Infrastructure Failure and Resilience of the Mississippi River

Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning Zhenhua Chen has received a $80,102 grant from the Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture to conduct a study of the Mississippi River. Chen will serve as Principal Investigator and complete the study, Regional Impacts of Inland Waterways Infrastructure Failure and Transportation Resilience of the Mississippi River, within the term of one year.

The principal objective of the study is to develop an operational framework to evaluate the economic consequences of inland waterway system failure and the effectiveness of resilience options that can help agricultural transportation systems in the supply chain to recover more rapidly from disruptions. A secondary objective is to enhance the Transportation Services Division’s analytical capability of the Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model used in the study.

In 2020, the barge industry moved more than 40 million tons of down-bound grain to the Gulf through the Mississippi River locking system. However, despite the importance of the locks and dams in the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois River (UMR-IR) region to economic and ecological systems, this waterway infrastructure is more than 50 years old and requires major rehabilitation to sustain its reliability and performance. In 2007, Congress authorized seven new constructions of 1200-foot lock chambers in the UMR-IR region, which if built would prepare shippers for projecting rising volumes of commodity grain shipments over the next decades.

To conduct his study, Chen will adapt a multi-regional CGE model to evaluate the unexpected failures of these seven proposed waterway infrastructure projects in the UMR-IL region. Further, the economic consequence analysis will emphasize the spatial impacts of the seven locks on the local and regional economies, rather than treat each lock as an independent economic unit.