Implications of inland waterway maintenance: A comprehensive evaluation of maintenance decisions and delay costs

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Date
2023-12
Authors
Oni, Bukola Comfort
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Madson, Katherine
MacKenzie, Cameron
Smadi, Omar
Sturgill, Roy
Poleacovschi, Cristina
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Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering
Abstract
America's inland waterways (IWWs) are vital for transporting commodities and sustaining the nation's economy, but decades of underinvestment have left them with a significant maintenance backlog, threatening their reliability. This dissertation addresses these challenges through three core objectives. Objective 1 develops a decision-making model for optimizing the maintenance of a single lock on an IWW. Objective 2 extends the research methods from Objective 1 to consider the interdependence between multiple locks within the IWW system. A decision model is proposed to optimize maintenance across these networks. Objectives 1 and 2 integrated data from surveys, expert interviews, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers publications. The models developed incorporated key decision parameters, including lock condition, failure likelihood, utilization, external impacts, and economic consequences. Findings underscore the importance of periodic inspections in maintenance decisions, even when assets appear in good condition. This is essential for an in-depth analysis of the condition of the locks. The results set the stage for future research into the impact of fiscal constraints on infrastructure asset maintenance decisions. Objective 3 acknowledges the disruptive impact of maintenance-related delays on IWWs, affecting immediate users, businesses, and society. The study proposes a theoretical approach by reviewing existing models, delay impacts and then developing a comprehensive framework to understand the consequences of delays on shippers, businesses, and society. The research establishes relationships between various factors resulting from such delays and considers broader user and societal costs than traditionally considered. In conclusion, this dissertation addresses the critical need to maintain and improve the performance of the IWWs that underpin the nation's economic vitality. Together, these findings provide a holistic approach to safeguarding America's IWWs' future.
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