Meeting Future Demand

Logistical Infrastructure Solutions

Cities are evolving; they have to. It’s not so much a question of when, but how. Currently, over half the globe’s population are urbanites, and at least eighty percent of the world’s energy is consumed by cities, emitting more than seventy percent of the planet’s greenhouse gases.

Like an intricately woven web, cities are expanding, moving both outward and upward – moulding into the fabric of their environment. This evolution necessitates strategic planning, foresight and scrupulous attention to one of the most essential determinants of a city’s economic sustainability – its infrastructure.

Reliable and efficient infrastructure sets the precedent for the logistical systems that will follow and links a city with the rest of the world. Tomorrow’s cities will have to utilize strategic planning to think and be smarter – to capture that quality of life so essential for residents.

A large component of a city’s economic prosperity is dependent on international commerce – the ability to cost effectively and efficiently move both goods and people in a highly competitive market. How cities maintain and develop key multi-modal transportation systems and infrastructure determines how well these cities take advantage of diversification, which has proven to be the economic enabler for continued growth and prosperity.

It has been estimated that the cost to build new infrastructure or retrofit existing infrastructure in the world’s cities is $40 trillion. For the older city this will present a challenge, but expanding newer cities have the advantage of putting the right infrastructure in place at the start. Multi-modal transportation systems form the backbone of cities, securing both economic growth and accessibility. It takes diligent planning to facilitate this growth with fewer resources and tighter budgets. Intelligent solutions from businesses and political leaders will increase safety and maximize costs.

The role of logistics management in cities has changed dramatically since the 1950s. Logistics management is crucial to industries that want to remain competitive in a quickly evolving globalized planet, but optimization can be a challenge when industries tend to fall back on their existing distribution and production processes. Transportation modes need to utilize and effectively incorporate all facets of discrete activities in a logistics chain in order to function at optimal levels. As at least one third of logistics costs are attributed to transportation systems, excellent coordination is essential in ensuring seamless intermodal transport.

Cities have taken initiatives, primarily out of necessity, to deliver the required infrastructure to accommodate the demands of a globalized economy. Innovation in the export / import logistics service chain is attempting to make the process more reliable, cost effective and time saving.

Since ancient times, ports have been the hubs of economic prosperity and growth and the focal points of urbanization. They remain so today and have grown astronomically in response to the need to interconnect, to integrate as a vessel of world trade. At least ninety percent of the world’s goods are transported by ship and this mode of transportation has seen dramatic increases in the last two decades. Ports are reacting to this increased demand for their facilities.

Construction recently began on the Port of Miami Tunnel – a billion dollar underground project with a completion date of May, 2014 – in 2010. The project was initiated to ease the congestion on the city’s Port Boulevard Bridge which had been the only route for heavy commercial vehicles accessing the container shipping terminal.

The mixed-use tunnel will accommodate both cargo and cruise traffic; provide an interstate connection to and from the port; and relieve congestion in downtown Miami. This will be especially crucial considering heavy truck traffic (currently accounting for close to thirty percent of the total) will dramatically increase with the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion Project. Additionally, Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) has plans to connect the Miami port with freight-rail service which will have an on-dock rail facility operational by the summer of 2014. This will allow goods from the port to be able to access seventy percent of the American population within a few days.

Air freight logistics has grown to be one of the most efficient, flexible and secure means of transportation during the past century. Airplanes and airports operate as separate entities requiring separate preparation in allowing completion of supply chain functions. As essential facilities connecting cities worldwide, airports help fuel growing urban economies. Airports play an integral role in providing on-demand access, around the clock, for the distribution of often high value, time sensitive goods.

The aerotropolis, or airport city, could reshape the urban landscape and prompt commercial development. This urban plan centres the infrastructure and economic development activity on the airport instead of locating this transport hub far out on the outskirts. The aerotropolis is becoming the focus of aviation-reliant businesses that are seeking them out as the movers of goods and services.

Calgary International Airport is one Canada’s fastest growing cargo airports (Canada’s fourth largest after Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal), and will soon be home to the country’s longest runway. The new runway, the airport’s fourth, will be capable of landing the world’s largest aircraft, some weighing as much as half a million kilograms.

In 2011, plans were announced to develop the additional 4.2 kilometre runway at a cost of $620 million and this is expected to be operational in 2014. Strategically located, Calgary International offers a hub for specialized services in receiving, storing and distributing both international and domestic cargo from air, rail and highway. An additional twenty-two flight gates will accommodate the increased movement of goods and people, substantially adding to both job creation and the growth of local businesses.

Governments are required, at all levels, to support and fund the infrastructure needed by the logistics industry. This requires diligence, problem solving and a huge investment to ensure that companies are attracted to cities offering the systems vital to their services; ideally those presenting combined or multi-modal systems. At a federal level, governments need to adopt a proactive rather than a reactive approach to sustainable development in the transportation sector. The implementation of performance indicators will serve to ascertain problem areas and determine the pre-emptive action required.

A country is defined by the strength of its communities, urban and rural. Investments made toward sustainable infrastructure – and associated logistics systems – enable a continued high quality of life while positioning cities to remain globally competitive into the next century.

June 22, 2018, 6:44 PM EDT

A Proactive Approach to Resolving a Longstanding Debate

About forty skilled Central and South American workers from Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and Costa Rica came to British Columbia, Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in 2006. This story incited Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) call for reforms to Canada’s TFW program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). LiUNA, a powerful voice within the construction industry with over half a million members – 110,000 of whom are in Canada – has been the only Canadian union to address the issue.