This is the fourth year for Harris County's International Trade and Transportation Conference. The event will focus on how goods are transported from the Port of Houston by truck and by rail, and what needs to be done to improve the system. Harris County Judge Ed Emmitt says the goal is to position Houston as the gateway to North America.
"It's fine to talk about ships coming from overseas, but if the infrastructure on the land can't handle the freight, then those ships will go somewhere else."
Emmett says the the area's rail system is one of the particular challenges.
"We have a good railroad system, but the railroad system in the Houston area was really built a century ago, and we need to make sure it's modernized, and grade crossings are eliminated and bridges are where they need to be."
The conference will also look at truck transportation. Emmett says traffic jams can be costly to transportation companies, and the goal is to keep big rigs from getting tied up in commuter traffic.
"You know, right now, containers are taken off of a ship and put on the ground, and picked up and put on a truck, and then they're trucked to a rail head somewhere to an intermodal facility. We need to make those connections to intermodal facilities as seamless as possible."
About 300 people are expected to attend the conference, which will feature executives of local transportation firms and trade organizations.