Estimating Demand for Container Freight Service at the Port of Davisville

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The Port of Davisville, located at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, is a former US Navy facility that was turned over to Rhode Island for commercial development when the naval base closed in 1974. Since then, a number of proposals have been put forth to expand the port’s operations to include the handling of containerized cargo. The Port of Davisville’s managing organization, the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), partnered with this academic research team to objectively analyze the viability of three proposals: (1) a major expansion of the port to make it an international container megaport, (2) a lesser investment to make it a regional international port of entry for containers, and (3) a minor expansion to make it a short-sea shipping container port. We estimated the potential demand for each expansion option using transportation cost optimization models. QDC used our study’s demand estimation in its request for grant funds from the US Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program. As a result, QDC received $22.3 million to support the development of short-sea container freight shipping services at the Port of Davisville.