Ingram barge brings intermodal containers to America's Central Port

The following is the text of a news release from Ingram Marine Group:

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Ingram Barge Company today announced that its towboat, M/V Miss Shirley, arrived at America’s Central Port in Granite City, Ill., transporting containers via barge as part of a demonstration to show the viability of intermodal river transportation.

“Currently our nation’s highways and railways are operating near full capacity, while our inland waterways are vastly underutilized,” said Dan Mecklenborg, senior vice president, chief legal officer, Ingram Barge Company. “We know there is substantial room to grow in transporting goods on the rivers with minimal investment. And the inland waterways network is the safest and most environmentally friendly mode of transporting cargo in the U.S.”

America’s Central Port organized a press conference today to talk about the importance of transporting goods via container on barge and to raise awareness of the capabilities of intermodal river transportation. 

"The Maritime Administration predicts the U.S. will need to move an additional 14 billion tons of cargo by 2050 to accommodate population growth,” said Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis, Mo. “This means we will need to almost double our freight movement capacity within 35 years. If we are to meet this demand, remain competitive in the global marketplace, and reduce our carbon footprint, then the inland waterway system should be used as a competitive option."  

The list of special guests and speakers at today’s press conference included: Mayor Francis Slay; Mayor Tom Thompson of Grafton, Ill.; Mayor Ed Hagnauer of Granite City, Ill.; Col. Anthony Mitchell with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Aimee Andres, executive director of Inland Rivers, Ports and Terminals Inc.; Bill Paape with the U.S. Maritime Administration, and Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port.

“We are pleased to be a part of this demonstration and to bring all of these industry and city leaders together today,” said Wilmsmeyer. “This test is a combined effort involving leaders from other companies, ports and agencies, and it’s being conducted to exhibit the benefits of intermodal river transportation for our industry and our economy. We are optimistic that shippers and retailers will see the potential here.”  

The transportation of goods, like agricultural commodities, construction materials, or consumer goods, via intermodal containers on the inland river system could serve cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, or Pittsburgh.

"We are witnessing a significant development toward sustainably developing the economy of the Mississippi River Valley — returning container movement back to the America’s Waterway,” said Thompson. “This is not an easy undertaking. The effort requires key partnerships between the public and private sectors, and the mayors along the Mississippi River have forged those partnerships.”

The trial run began at the Paducah McCracken County Riverport Authority, utilizing the Paducah Riverport Authority’s flat-top Comansa tower crane to load the 20-foot containers onto the Ingram barge. Ingram Barge Company has been working closely with the Paducah Riverport Authority to prepare and plan for this test run.  

Ingram and the Paducah Riverport Authority both agree that exploring the logistics of intermodal river transportation is essential to the growth of inland marine transportation and the nation’s economy. The anticipated completion of the expansion of the Panama Canal next year is expected to improve the efficiency and economics for shipments to and from the Gulf of Mexico.

A standard jumbo hopper barge can accommodate up to 81 empty or 50 loaded TEUs, or 36 empty or loaded FEUs. A towboat operating on the locking rivers like the Tennessee, Ohio or Illinois, can typically transport 15 barge tows, which equates to a possibility of up to 1,215 empty or 750 loaded TEUs or 540 empty or loaded FEUs.  A towboat operating on the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans can transport up to 54 barge tows, which equates to a possibility of up to 4,374 empty or 2,700 loaded TEUs or 1,944 empty or loaded FEUs.  

When the Ingram towboat leaves America’s Central Port, the towboat will return to Paducah where the Riverport Authority will unload the intermodal containers using the 200-ton Comansa tower crane, which is the largest in North America.

About Ingram Marine Group

Ingram Marine Group encompasses Ingram’s operating units involved in transporting bulk commodities on America’s inland waterways, terminaling bulk commodities, and delivering fuel and supplies to the towing industry. The largest of the operating units is Ingram Barge Company, which transports coal, aggregates, grain, fertilizer, ores, alloys, steel and chemicals with a fleet of 140 towboats and 5,000 barges. Other units include Custom Fuel Services (diesel fuel and supplies) and Triangle Fleet (ship anchorage in Louisiana). For more information, visit

By Professional Mariner Staff