You Load Sixteen Tons, What Do Ya Get?
6/12/2008 11:47:00 AM | Author: baloghblog
On the Erie Canal? 8.7x more fuel efficiency!

Cross-posted at Groovy Green

erie canal map

Falling out of favor after the interstate highway system was built, the Erie Canal is still an appealing option for transporting large loads. With diesel prices at the $5 per gallon mark in New York, the canal is looking more appealing for smaller loads too. Of course it has a large competitor to overcome. It is tough to forsake the convenience and speed of delivery by tractor-trailer. However, if you can afford to wait, you can afford to ship a higher weight.

Syracuse Post-Standard:
According to the federal transportation department, shipping by water is far more energy-efficient.

In a tractor-trailer, one gallon of fuel is needed to transport one ton of freight 59 miles. On a barge, the same load will go 514 miles on a gallon of fuel.

[snip]

Today the canal is used mainly as a recreational waterway.

But the tide may be turning for the canal's commercial use, said Carmella Mantello, director of the state's Canal Corp.

"The canal is slower, but it's fuel-efficient and it's greener," Mantello said. "One barge can carry the equivalent of 60 tractor-trailers."

"Hopefully, we're beginning to see a trend," Mantello said.

Last year several large tanks, bound for the Northeast Biofuels plant in Volney, were shipped from Virginia to Fulton along the canal.

"All forms of transportation are essential for the success of the biofuel plant, but the canal is definitely energy-efficient and has a small carbon footprint," said Stewart Hancock, speaking for the ethanol plant.
(emphasis mine)

Again, time is money and I don't believe in this "gotta have it now" age, that the Erie Canal will be booming again in the near future. However, having kept the barge system maintained all these years in the face of declining use, may have been one of the state's saving graces as we begin to feel the effects of peak oil.

[pic found here]
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