COVID-19’s continued impacts on Kentucky freight, logistics and infrastructure businesses

By Rachel Nix, Building Kentucky

Businesses in Kentucky’s freight, logistics and manufacturing industries are sharing how they’ve adapted to a year of uncertainty and change. From logistical challenges to funding gaps, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be felt for many years to come.

Infrastructure

In an interview with Pit & Quarry magazine, Nick Rodgers of the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association shared some insights into the state’s aggregate industry. He said he’s optimistic for 2021 driven by the hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine, current stability of federal transportation funding, and potential new legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly to increase infrastructure funding.

Rodgers said the aggregate producers are ready to repair, maintain and expand Kentucky’s infrastructure in 2021 despite the ongoing challenges faced by COVID-19. He mentioned the bourbon industry and growing agri-business in the Commonwealth as expansion areas in the future.

Freight

In an interview with ITE Journal, Daniel Haake of HDR talked about the unprecedented demand on the freight industry caused by the pandemic. With panic buying of household goods and PPE, broken supply chains and empty store shelves created big issues for the logistics and freight industries. Distribution centers in Kentucky and across the country for companies like Amazon and Target were forced to adjust as home deliveries soared.

Haake explained that while fewer people were on the roads for work and leisure, truck travel remained stable rushing to keep up to restock store shelves and medical facilities. Travel speeds even increased for some fright businesses allowing much-needed goods to be delivered faster due to lessened traffic and fewer bottlenecks. Looking ahead, the long-term implications remain uncertain until demand returns to normal levels.

Logistics

In the meantime, Kentucky’s supply chain infrastructure is growing – with large distributors like Amazon continuing to invest and expand here. A new $1.5 billion Amazon Air hub will open soon at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. According to Supply Chain Dive, it’s estimated that more than 323 million tons of freight flow through the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana region each year.

With a COVID-19 vaccine rolling out nationwide, Louisville’s UPS Worldport will a vital distribution point. The logistics service has been ramping up the production of dry ice at its Louisville facility to ensure vaccines are properly stored.

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