A group based in Lincoln County announced plans to build barge port, a freight terminal and an airport spread across 6,500 acres next to the Mississippi River at Winfield upriver from St. Louis.
Backers of the project — called the Port of Lincoln — say the development would produce thousands of jobs and provide infrastructure improvements. Kara Jones, a partner in the project, said most of the acreage is under contract but was unable to specify when work might begin. Jones said partners in the project have negotiated with at least 1,000 people to get purchase contracts for land, adding that no effort would be made to obtain property by eminent domain.
Colin Wellenkamp, director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, said he was unfamiliar with the Port of Lincoln plan but added that “lots” of proposals for new barge facilities on the Mississippi are in the works. Local port investments have grown in recent years as municipalities and counties prepare for increased barge traffic due to a recovering economy and a widening of the Panama Canal.
The Booneslick Regional Planning Commission, which covers Lincoln County, said in a report issued last year that developing a port could take up to 15 years and cost from $3 million to $20 million, depending on land costs, environmental permitting and legal expenses.