Bob Wydra spends his days overseeing the transition of a former U.S. Army base into an extensive intermodal transportation facility in the heart of America. From his second floor office in the former Granite City Army Depot across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, he runs a 1,200-acre multi-use development that handles nearly 2,500 barges [roughly 4 million tons] of cargo annually, along with 32,000 rail cars and 40,000 trucks.

His is one of several inland port facilities in the St. Louis, Mo., metropolitan area. Combined, the various St. Louis ports handle just over 32 million tons of cargo each year.

"With globalization, transportation becomes even more critical to the site selection process and where businesses locate," says Wydra, the executive director of the Tri-City Regional Port District in Granite City, Ill. "Seventy percent of what comes across our docks is destined for ports all over the world. We're connected to the river, the railroad and the interstate highway system, so we take advantage of all the freight modes."

With rising fuel prices, transportation costs are a major consideration when it comes to where a company locates a new manufacturing or distribution facility. Finding a cheaper way to ship product is a continuous goal of business executives everywhere. That's why facilities such as the Tri-City Port District are so important.

"The Mississippi River opens up just below St. Louis," said Wydra. "Barges have to come down the Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi Rivers on smaller tows but, once they get below Lock 27, there aren't any more locks all the way down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico."

Why is this important? Cargo capacity.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, one barge can carry the same volume of cargo as 15 jumbo hopper rail cars, or 58 tractor-trailers. That advantage increases exponentially once you get below Lock 27 and can start stringing together, say, a 15-barge tow, which offers the same cargo capacity as 225 rail cars, or 870 large tractor-trailers.

With today's fuel prices, that's a significant advantage when it comes to long-haul transportation costs. And that's just one of many factors businesses must take into consideration before deciding where to locate a new manufacturing or distribution facility.

For that reason, Expansion Management and Logistics Today magazines have teamed up for the past six years to produce our annual Logistics Quotient ranking of the most logistics friendly metropolitan areas in the United States. The study evaluates the overall logistics infrastructure of our nation's 362 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) based upon 10 major categories, including the local transportation and distribution (T&D) industry, T&D work force, road infrastructure, road congestion, road conditions, interstate highway access, vehicle taxes & fees, railroad access, water port access and air cargo access.

Topping this year's list as the most logisticsfriendly metro in the U.S. is the New York-Newark-Edison MSA, followed by Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, and Kansas City. Rounding out the top 10 are St. Louis, Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont. (See chart on page 38 for an alphabetical listing of this year's Top 50 Logistics Cities).

How we measured the logistics infrastructure
The Logistics Quotient ranks metropolitan statistical areas according to 10 major categories, as described below. Together, they give a comprehensive overview of the many facets that make up a region's overall logistics infrastructure.

Transportation and warehousing Industry. This category looks at the depth and strength of the regional distribution industry, including the number of companies in the area engaged in transportation and warehousing, along with the annual revenue generated by the industry sector. Information comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The top metropolitan areas in this category are New York, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Chicago and Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth tied for fifth.

Workforce. This category examines the depth and cost of the local logistics work force and includes the total annual payroll of companies in the transportation and warehousing industry sector, the total number of employees, the average salary and revenue per employee. Information comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The top metropolitan areas in this category are St. Louis; Louisville; Miami-Fort Lauderdale; Laredo, Texas; and San Diego.

Interstate highway access. This category focuses on the interstate highway infrastructure and includes the number of interstate highways that pass through the metro area, as well as the number of interstate auxiliary routes (i.e., beltways, bypass, etc.). Information comes from the Federal Highway Administration.

The top metropolitan areas in this category are New York-Newark, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth and St. Louis.

Road and bridge conditions. This category includes the average roughness of the metro area's roads, as well as the percentage of bridges that are obsolete or structurally deficient, including five-year trends. Information comes from the Federal Highway Administration.

The top states in this category are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida and Connecticut.

Road density and congestion. Whether or not a metropolitan area has adequate roads depends upon the amount of traffic using those roads. Clearly, what is considered an adequate infrastructure for Huntsville, Ala., is insufficient for a city like Atlanta. This category includes such things as roadway miles per capita, total miles of freeways, average daily freeway traffic, and average daily traffic per freeway lane. Information comes from the Federal Highway Administration.

The top metropolitan areas in this category are Pueblo, Colo.; Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio; Wausau, Wis.; Wichita Falls, Texas; and San Angelo, Texas.

Road infrastructure. This category looks into the future in terms of keeping up an adequate road infrastructure. It includes public roads mileage, capital outlay for roads and bridges, highway maintenance per mile and spending for highway law enforcement. Information comes from the Federal Highway Administration.

The top metropolitan areas in this category are Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Vehicle taxes and fees. This category includes highway user taxes and fees, as well as motor fuel excise taxes. Data on state and federal highway user taxes and fees was provided by the American Transportation Research Institute (as of April 2005), while data on motor fuel excise taxes was provided by the Federation of Tax Administrators (as of January 2006).

The states with the lowest annual state and federal highway truck user fees are Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, Hawaii and South Carolina.

Railroad infrastructure. This category includes the number of railroad carriers that service a metro. The data came from ALK Technologies, Inc., Princeton, N.J.

The top five metros in this category are Chicago, New York-Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Water port infrastructure. This category includes total tonnage for all ports located within the confines of the metropolitan area and comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center.

The top five metros in this category are category are New York-Newark, Memphis, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Chicago.

Air cargo infrastructure. This category includes the number of air courier companies, as well as the total air cargo tonnage for the metro. The data comes from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics,and the 2004 U.S. County Business Patterns, U.S. Census Bureau.

The top five metropolitan areas in this category are New York-Newark, Memphis, Los Angeles-Long-Beach, Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Chicago.

Bill King is the chief editor and Michael Keating is the senior research editor of Expansion Management magazine.

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Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. 7 66 289 345 4 12 3 34 95 8
Baltimore-Towson, Md. 21 70 157 199 288 3 152 34 24 36
Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. 48 74 190 238 210 23 34 24 38 67
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H. 10 56 82 213 296 23 109 34 31 17
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Tonawanda, N.Y. 44 31 6 106 347 81 352 6 60 57
Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga. 85 51 269 206 50 52 29 63 57 107
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.-Ind.-Wis. 2 26 103 348 87 2 294 1 5 5
Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind. 23 45 222 209 189 15 149 34 24 20
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio 25 18 146 150 192 5 208 17 14 44
Columbus, Ohio 21 53 146 250 192 36 208 34 52 34
Dallas-Fort-Worth-Arlington, Texas 5 46 121 262 110 4 65 7 94 7
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill. 99 115 162 82 109 23 288 63 51 111
Denver-Aurora, Colo. 23 56 163 257 147 15 168 63 105 14
Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich 10 59 249 350 224 5 250 7 16 19
Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, Texas 5 13 121 315 110 52 65 17 2 12
Indianapolis, Ind. 27 71 92 332 93 12 229 34 90 18
Jacksonville, Fla. 33 30 21 295 29 52 188 63 40 51
Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. 20 25 242 67 190 9 127 17 42 25
Little Rock-North Little Rock, Ark. 53 23 231 81 158 23 136 34 44 72
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif. 2 11 44 267 297 9 306 102 29 3
Louisville, Ky.-Ind. 28 2 268 209 221 15 187 10 15 10
Memphis, Tenn-Miss.-Ark. 18 34 275 319 155 52 99 34 27 2
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Fla. 4 3 21 357 29 36 188 151 47 4
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. 32 19 209 344 52 36 295 63 59 37
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis 14 26 161 258 22 5 135 7 54 16
Mobile, Ala. 97 79 190 222 210 52 34 24 22 93
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro, Tenn. 36 76 225 231 73 36 57 102 36 40
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La. 30 36 281 276 280 52 45 17 1 48
New York-Newark-Edison, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. 1 34 5 234 346 1 159 2 3 1
Oklahoma City, Okla. 42 8 310 235 276 15 15 63 121 58
Peoria, Ill. 107 110 84 122 73 81 344 10 46 85
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. 7 87 83 294 324 15 162 3 8 9
Pittsburgh, Pa. 26 103 104 121 329 23 332 4 7 34
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash. 19 48 221 286 223 36 271 10 30 21
Richmond, Va. 43 124 175 102 172 15 90 225 55 51
Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, Calif. 39 37 44 298 297 52 306 34 86 29
Salt Lake City, Utah 40 24 163 302 16 23 154 102 110 32
San Antonio, Texas 41 65 121 167 110 23 65 102 112 33
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif. 29 5 44 218 297 23 306 102 80 30
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. 9 20 44 189 297 12 306 34 12 6
Savannah, Ga. 84 71 289 244 4 52 3 63 75 134
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. 12 28 70 228 253 52 272 15 9 11
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill 12 1 187 218 186 5 164 5 10 28
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 31 9 21 362 29 23 188 310 19 27
Toledo, Ohio 59 67 146 261 192 15 208 34 48 54
Tulsa, Okla. 45 47 310 112 276 81 15 34 62 60
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. 38 64 201 247 185 36 108 34 35 62
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va. 16 48 175 305 222 9 124 63 24 23
Wichita, Kan. 78 42 236 39 65 81 165 63 148 68
Worcester, Mass. 83 114 17 96 329 52 127 63 31 107

Source: Expansion Management and Logistics Today Magazines, 2006 Logistics Quotient.

How the Cities Stack Up

Overall logistics infrastructure

  1. New York-Newark
  2. Houston
  3. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  4. Dallas-Fort Worth
  5. Kansas City
  6. St. Louis
  7. Chicago
  8. Cleveland
  9. Boston
  10. San Francisco

Transportation and warehousing industry

  1. New York-Newark
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach
  3. Chicago
  4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  5. Houston/Dallas-Fort Worth (tie)

Transportation and warehousing workforce

  1. St. Louis
  2. Louisville
  3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  4. Laredo, Texas
  5. San Diego

Road density and congestion

  1. Pueblo, Colo.
  2. Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio
  3. Wausau, Wis.
  4. Wichita Falls, Texas
  5. San Angelo, Texas

Interstate highways infrastructure

  1. New York-Newark
  2. Chicago
  3. Baltimore
  4. Dallas-Fort Worth
  5. St. Louis

Railroad Infrastructure

  1. Chicago
  2. New York-Newark
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. St. Louis

Water port infrastructure

  1. New Orleans
  2. Houston
  3. New York-Newark
  4. Baton Rouge, La.
  5. Chicago

Air cargo infrastructure

  1. New York-Newark
  2. Memphis
  3. Los Angeles-Long Beach
  4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  5. Chicago