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Logistics study revisits old concerns

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A logistics industry group on Tuesday unveiled a strategic plan for the state’s logistics industry that largely rehashes concerns expressed over the last several years.

The two-year study by the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council Executive Committee involved 36 logistics executives statewide.

A second phase of the study to be released next year will recommend financing mechanisms for infrastructure and a public-policy package tailored toward the Indiana General Assembly.

Among general goals are eliminating transportation bottlenecks, addressing the lack of intermodal rail service, improving underutilized air-shipping potential and fixing the decaying lock infrastructure on the Ohio River and Great Lakes.

One area in particular executives have cited in the past is the need for more direct rail shipments from West Coast ports to the Avon rail yard near Indianapolis International Airport.

The report notes the need to eliminate highway congestion in the Chicago area, citing the proposed Illiana Expressway, which would be a roughly 30-mile link between Interstate 65 in Lake County and I-57 in Will County, Ill.

It noted ongoing or planned projects that should bring improvements throughout the state, including the widening of U.S. 31 between Plymouth and South Bend;  the 99-mile Hoosier Heartland Highway, consisting of the new State Road 25 between I-65 in Lafayette to I-69 in Fort Wayne and the I-69 extension between Indianapolis and Evansville.

Logistics leaders called again for greater “portable skills” curricula leading to academic degrees and certifications to improve the pool of qualified workers in the logistics industry. Manufacturing/logistics jobs pay 33 percent more than the state’s median income, said Conexus, an arm of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

Indiana has a number of inherent advantages in the logistics industry, including its central location, low cost of doing business and No. 1 rank in interstate access, said Conexus Vice President David Holt.

“However that position could be threatened if we ignore key infrastructure improvements, fail to maximize capacity, have an unprepared work force or adopt government policies that make it more difficult to ship goods to and from our state,” Holt said in a prepared statement.
 

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