Houston is poised to be the “gateway to North America” for shipments from Mexico and Central and South America–as well as other areas of the globe, said Harris County Ed Emmett at a Jan. 19 meeting of the Transportation Club of Houston.
He noted that several factors indicate a growth in the area’s transportation industry, including larger ships that haul more products and a sophisticated supply chain. He predicts that to enhance efficiency, shipping companies will want to make one port of call rather than several.
After the meeting, Emmett told this reporter that the Panama Canal expansion, expected to be completed in 2014, bodes well for even more marine traffic to enter the Harris County area, noting that the Port of Houston is the first major port for shipments coming from areas south of the United States.
During the meeting, he also said he anticipates more trade from Mexico in the future when the country’s internal problems are solved.
At the same time, he said that in order to have a thriving economy, it is essential to move goods and people efficiently. “We are facing a very uncertain future, particularly to transportation,” he added. “…We’ve got to have the money to live up to our potential…We desperately need a connector to the port (Port of Houston).”
Emmett also noted that to move freight efficiency, ways must be developed to expedite commuter traffic. While some projects in the area are underway, many on the drawing board suffer from a lack of funding. He noted that the gas tax does not provide enough revenue to even maintain the infrastructure. “The gas tax just isn’t going to get it done,” he said.
Emmett advised Houston transportation companies to contact their state legislators to encourage them to provide funding for area transportation infrastructure. Another funding source is the federal government, which is currently providing infusions and may designate further efforts.
The judge also noted that the Jan. 24-26 second annual Harris County International Trade and Transportation Conference will take a look at the area’s transportation growth and the issues involved. More information about the conference is available by clicking here.
The next monthly meeting of the Transportation Club of Houston will be Tuesday, February 2, at 11:00 a.m. at the Houston Club. Guest speaker will be James T. Kniestedt, security advisor for Kansas City Southern Railroad. He will discuss cargo security in Mexico.