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Freight Economy

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FHWA's Roundtable on the Freight Economy: Des Moines, Iowa

Date: May 23, 2016

Our Host: Greater Des Moines Partnership

Key Regional Transportation Facilities and Freight Hubs

HIGHWAYSI-35, I-80, I-235, S-28, S-163
RAILROADSUnion Pacific, Iowa Interstate, Norfolk Southern, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads
AIRPORTSDes Moines International Airport (DSM)

Freight Facilities

Source: Des Moines Area MPO, Iowa DOT

Stakeholders Represented by the Following:

What the future of freight will look like for the region:

"Iowa" FAF zone

Top 5 Commodities by Value 2045

Commodity Value (millions $) % of total
Machinery 73,281 12%
Cereal grains 40,366 6%
Electronics 36,773 6%
Other foodstuffs 36,651 6%
Mixed freight 36,230 6%
All commodities 636,970 100%

Top 5 Commodities by Weight 2045

Commodity Tons (thousands) % of total
Cereal grains 156,567 20%
Natural gas (Coal-n.e.c.) 108,390 14%
Gravel 78,707 10%
Animal feed 68,842 9%
Other ag prods. 56,035 7%
All commodities 776,383 100%

Trading Partners 2045

Outbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
Illinois 73,316 24%
Minnesota 52,869 17%
Nebraska 21,911 7%
Texas 15,779 5%
Missouri 15,105 5%
Total outbound 304,505 100%

Inbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
Minnesota 51,143 34%
Nebraska 24,392 16%
Illinois 11,500 8%
Wyoming 8,145 5%
Missouri 7,748 5%
Total inbound 151,204 100%

Based on FAF4.1 data with base year 2012 and forecasts upto 2045

Modal Freight Share by Tonnage, 2012 and 2045

In 2014, the Iowa GDP was $169.7 billion, ranked 30th among states in the U.S. Des Moines’s GDP was 26.6% of the state’s GDP.

About 40% of Des Moines’s employment is from freight-intensive industry sectors.

Between 2012 and 2045, Iowa will see freight activity increase by about 50% in value and about 40% in tonnage.

Iowa’s domestic freight activity tonnage share was 98% in 2012. The state’s international tonnage share is projected to increase from 2% to 6% in 2045.

In 2012, trucks carried most of the freight in Iowa, both in value (74%) and tonnage (66%).

Iowa interstates carried 62% of the state’s large truck traffic (combination units or tractor plus trailer(s)) in 2015.

Cereal grains and natural gas are the largest two commodities by tonnage and represented 37% of all freight tonnage in Iowa in 2012.

More than 99% of Iowa’s air cargo travels through two commercial airports: Des Moines International Airport, which handles 70% of the share, and Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. With more than one million square feet of available parking for cargo aircraft, the Des Moines airport serves as a second-day hub for UPS.

Des Moines’s population is projected to increase nearly 60% from 480,000 in 2010 to 751,000 by 2050. The region’s employment is expected to increase by 40% in 2050, which will require almost 150,000 new housing units.

Des Moines is at the crossroads of I-35 (North-South) and I-80 (East-West), which connect the region to Canada, Mexico, the east and west coasts, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Sources for Freight Facts: FAF4 Data, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Iowa State Freight Plan-Iowa DOT, Mobilizing Tomorrow -DMAMPO, http://www.dsmairport.com/

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Page last modified on August 29, 2017
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