JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Transportation is working with agriculture producers, shippers, barge lines and other state and federal agencies to implement a plan that will help increase freight travel on Missouri waterways, create jobs and promote an environmentally friendlier way to transport goods.
Attendees at a Dec. 10 Missouri River Development Forum in Rocheport, Mo., identified three areas to increase freight movement on the river. One team will coordinate a market assessment for the Missouri River corridor development, while the other two teams will examine ways to improve port infrastructure and river management. MoDOT will oversee the task forces.
Anticipated appropriations made possible by U.S. Senator Kit Bond will pay for a market and commodity analysis. Over the next year this $900,000 study would determine the right approach for improving the Missouri River corridor by looking into traditional river products, examining the potential for containerized shipping, and discovering ways to get more consistent operations even when water levels are low.
Currently seven of the 14 authorized public ports have the capability to transport goods across their dock, with 2.4 million tons of goods and services passing through so far in 2009. Dr. Ernie Perry, freight development administrator at MoDOT, indicated the goal is to increase freight moved across these docks and onto the river, add connections to other travel modes and provide economic development opportunities along the river corridor and access to global markets.
At the freight forum, representatives from a range of waterway interests discussed obstacles to moving freight on the Missouri River then offered ideas and strategies to increase freight movement. John LaRandeau, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division in Omaha, Neb., praised Missouri agencies for working with waterway stakeholders towards use of the river for navigation.