Corps plans will improve barge traffic

SPRINGFIELD — A proposed river port development in the southern Illinois town of Cairo is drawing attention and interest from companies that believe it could open up greater access to international markets.

The Alexander-Cairo Port District project has been on the drawing board for about 10 years, but it was given a major boost in 2019 when the General Assembly passed a $45 billion capital improvements plan called Rebuild Illinois, which included a $40 million investment in the port project.

If the project is given final approval – officials have said it will require more than 20 state and federal permits – that money is expected to draw an estimated $300 million in private investment, creating hundreds of construction jobs and many more permanent jobs with cargo shipping companies and other supporting industries.

John Vickerman, a design consultant working on the project, and other consultants conducted a videoconference Tuesday to provide an update.

“We know that the Corps of Engineers has approved the deepening of the Lower Mississippi, allowing much bigger vessels up into the Mississippi, upwards of 50 to 75 miles from its current configuration,” Vickerman said. “So what’s happening here is we’re changing the very character of the inland waterway system.

“Every port and every terminal of the more than 35 terminals on the Mississippi — and many on the Ohio, on the Illinois and the Missouri — are now and will be shortly 50 to 75 miles closer to open ocean,” he said. “Their ability to move export product down the Mississippi and effectively transfer to large ocean vessels is upon us.”

Vickerman said his firm performed a “macroeconomic” market analysis to identify the domestic industry sectors that would most likely benefit from such a port.

He said those include…

Region: Metro East,City: Alton,News

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October 6, 2021 at 03:39PM

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