September 25, 2019 – Robert Sinkler, former Colonel for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers overviewed a proposed concept to pursue designation of a federally recognized port consisting of existing ports and terminals along the Mississippi River from the Iowa and Illinois border at river mile 580 (Dubuque) to the south border at river mile 362 (Keokuk), north to south. There are 7 counties in Illinois and 8 counties in Iowa adjacent to the river in this corridor.
Based on data from Iowa DOT, over 6.2 million tons and $5.2 billion in commodities were shipped on waterways to, from, and within Iowa in 2012. The volume is comparable to the Port of Wilmington, which would rank the proposed port to 68th in the nation. There are similar models were collective ports and terminals have formed associations to raise greater awareness within the shipping industry, promote river commerce and support maritime infrastructure improvements. The Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky was suggested as a model.
This association covers 226.5 miles and 15 counties. A non-federal partner would be needed to support the creation, as well as support from the adjacent counties and states. Governance and funding would need to be discussed. A letter of intent would be the first step to federal recognition, and require approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow for data and statistics to be collected by the national Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center.
The impetus for the effort is to raise the stature of the upper Mississippi River at the national level. Denise Bulat noted that she would be continuing to check with Bi-State’s regional planning organization peers to gauge interest.