April 19, 2019 Bryce Mansfield, Chad Darnall
PADUCAH - Two grants, one riverport, and endless possibilities: The Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority is currently upgrading the riverport in Paducah.
City leaders say it could put Paducah on the map as a landing site for a major employer, which could mean more jobs. Crews are working on reinforcing concrete at the riverport, and the riverport authority is purchasing three new pieces of equipment. Director Bill Miller says it will help them start a container on barge service that could help local companies expand and bring new ones to town.
“95% of the cargo moving in the U.S. today actually comes in through containers, so by opening up the container on barge, opening the region and the area up to container movement will allow some of the companies that we may be missing out on economic opportunities for that would want to come here,” Miller says.
Miller says after they finish the upgrades, the riverport will be able to handle 20,000 containers per year that measure 40 feet in length.
Mayor Brandi Harless says a high-volume container on barge service makes our city more attractive to companies.
“We have all the makings of a good transportation logistics hub, so in my opinion, the container on barge service is just the icing on the cake in a lot of ways — that now we get to promote and recruit potential companies based on the fact that we have all of these options for your logistic needs,” Harless says.
While the project is a month from completion, Miller’s excited for what he believes it will do for our area.
“We feel that we’ll be able to better utilize the blue water ports of New Orleans, lessen their gate traffic, improve their environment around themselves as well as improve our economic environment here,” Miller says.
Miller says the riverport authority received a $307,000 Delta Regional Authority grant and a $251, 927 Marine Highway grant to go toward the projects. Miller says the riverport authority will spend roughly $310,000 of its own money.
Miller says the service will be up and running starting in early June. He also says they’ll be able to handle 400 inbound and outbound barge containers per week.