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A Complete Guide to the Future of U.S. Freight Movement

The future holds more and more stuff to be transported—and infrastructure will have to change drastically to accommodate our appetites.
A storage yard at Garden City Terminal, at the Port of Savannah.
A storage yard at Garden City Terminal, at the Port of Savannah.Dan Glass

SAVANNAH, Ga.—Breakfast in Atlanta, as in many other U.S. cities, is a global affair. While the eggs may be from a farm 100 miles away, the pan and spatula used to cook them could be from Germany, and the refrigerator that kept them fresh was most likely manufactured in China, as was the toaster, flatware, and Swedish-designed table. The fruit salad alone probably represents four or five different countries, and the morning paper (they still exist) was printed on stock made from Indonesian wood pulp. The one breakfast item that might stand out as clearly "foreign" might be the coffee from Ethiopia.

Regardless of national origin, pretty much all of it came from outside Atlanta, by means ranging from 1,200-foot-long container vessel to oxcart. And that's just breakfast. For all of our activities, the average American requires the movement of 57 tons of cargo per year.