After reading Mr. Clayton Hill’s August 2nd letter, “Port would drain tax money needed for roads,” I would like to set the record straight.
In his letter, Mr. Hill calls freight by barge “obsolete – at least for the Missouri River.” This statement is simply not true. In fact, per the United States Army Corps of Engineers, 4.9 million tons were shipped by barge on the Missouri River in 2017, which marks the largest amount since 2009. Because of great river conditions in recent years, more navigation companies are now operating on the Missouri River, and interest has grown each year.
Mr. Hill also states his support for improvements to our roads and bridges, of which I whole-heartedly agree. However, modes of transportation do not have to be a zero-sum game. Just one barge can carry the same freight as 70 trucks. By loading barges at a new port facility in Jefferson City, our state highway system will be exposed to less damage and congestion, and our citizens will face less air pollution and fewer fatalities. Environmentally and economically, the state benefits from moving more freight on our waterways.
Additionally, the Missouri River is poised to play an important role in light of the recent Panama Canal expansion, which has the potential to increase the “draw area” to the Mississippi River, especially for our agricultural exports. Important conversations are currently taking place about new containerized shipping options on the Missouri River. The bottom line – the future of Missouri River commercial navigation is bright, with much potential to create jobs and opportunity right here at home. I applaud local and state leaders for being forward thinking in looking at the river as an additional means of economic development and I wish them much success.
Dan Engemann, Executive Director, Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, Hermann, Missouri