Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Industrial Engineering


Heather Nachtmann

Committee Member

Kim L. Needy

Second Committee Member

Edward Pohl

Third Committee Member

Suzanna Long


Social sciences, Disruption, Economic analysis, Maritime, Simulation, Transportation


The inland waterway transportation system of the United States (U.S.) handles 11.7 billion tons of freight annually and connects the heartland of the U.S. with the rest of the world by providing a fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. This dissertation aims to create decision support tools for maritime stakeholders to measure the economic impacts of the inland waterway transportation systems under real world scenarios including disruptions, demand changes, port expansion decisions, and channel deepening investments. Monte Carlo simulation, system dynamics, discrete-event simulation, agent-based modeling, and multiregional input-output modeling techniques are utilized to analyze the complex relationships between inland waterway transportation system components and regional economic impact factors. The first research contribution illustrates that the expected duration of a disruption determines whether decision makers are better off waiting for the waterway system to reopen or switching to an alternative mode of transportation. Moreover, total disruption cost can be reduced by increasing estimation accuracy of disruption duration. The second research contribution shows that without future investment in inland waterway infrastructure, a sustainable system and associate economic impacts cannot be generated in the long-term. The third research contribution illustrates that investing in bottleneck system components results in higher economic impact than investing in non-bottleneck components. The developed models can be adapted to any inland waterway transportation system in the U.S. by utilizing data obtained by publically available sources to measure the economic impacts under various scenarios to inform capital investment decisions and support an economically sustainable inland waterway transportation system.