inland navigation projects. The initial NETS program plan calls for three tiers of models:

  1. International traffic flow model. This model allows for deep draft multiport analysis of exports and imports, facilitating the evaluation of port improvements. It may also be capable of generating port-specific grain export shipments.

  2. Regional traffic routing model. This model would, as presently planned, generate a spatial equilibrium picture of commodity movements ultimately exported from U.S. ports (e.g., grain).

  3. Microscopic systems model. This suite of methods can generate and route individual shipments through inland waterways, while maintaining consistency with the results of the upper-tier models. These methods could include economic benefit models.

The NETS program is in its early stages, and no firm decisions have been made on the specifics of the models described above. It is possible that these models may collectively satisfy the modeling criteria set forth in Appendix A, although this is not currently known. Thus, although the NETS program holds promise, results from this program have not been used to inform the feasibility study, nor is there any guarantee that the program will be continued or that its results will ever provide meaningful inputs to the policymaking process. The IWR has sought advice and assistance from a broad range of experts, inside and outside the Corps. Because of the IWR’s contacts with U.S. universities, there promises to be some degree of participation by researchers from outside the Corps. The intention is to develop credible models that have been subjected to expert review and that are transparent and data driven. A review of this research program was not part of this study or report. The Corps should be credited for initiating this program and for placing it in an organization that is relatively independent of day-to-day project considerations and has ties to the research community beyond the Corps.

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