Container shipping on river barges could boost St. Louis freight

Regional officials in St. Louis say they’re looking for ways to encourage shippers to send more containers by barge, making inland ports bigger players in global trade. But getting more containers on barges will require improvements to the region’s river freight capabilities.

On Monday, several mayors of cities along the Mississippi River gathered with business and economic development officials at the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s office to outline some of the necessary steps.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administrator, Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, was on hand to announce almost $5 million in grants to help build the infrastructure and market intelligence needed to jump-start container movement along the Mississippi.

In the St. Louis region, almost $100,000 will go to a consortium that includes the Port of St. Louis and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative to begin studying what logistics companies need to move more containers along the rivers.

Another $700,000 would help fund a container-on-barge shuttle that America’s Central Port in Granite City hopes will grow into container shipping routes between here and New Orleans.

Jaenichen said the U.S. “desperately needs to rediscover” its river infrastructure as roads and rails lines handle more traffic. The port at St. Louis should play a key role in the development of more container commerce on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, he said.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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