Missouri River shipping season starts with industry at a crossroads

The following is the text of a press release issued by the Missouri Department of Transportation:
(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — Cargo is once again moving on the river! A newly energized shipping year begins by welcoming four barges onto the Missouri River.
Thursday morning more than 6,000 tons of fertilizer began moving up the Missouri River to farms and retail locations in Central Missouri, signifying the start of the most promising shipping season the industry has seen in eight years. The four barges are getting pushed by the M/V Butch Bowman, a 2400 horse power shallow draft boat ideal for Missouri River navigation. This load is expected to arrive at AGRIServices of Brunswick on Sunday.
Drought and low water levels the past eight years almost sunk Missouri River cargo shipping, but there’s a rejuvenated focus to bring river traffic back. The Missouri Department of Transportation, along with agriculture and shipping partners, want renewed life on the Missouri River and have formed a unique partnership to increase freight shipping, create jobs and promote an environmentally friendlier way to transport goods.
“We established our own barge services division when other providers moved off the river. The Missouri river is the best way to move freight.” said Bill Jackson, AGRIServices of Brunswick. “This is a viable shipping option which can save money, lower carbon dioxide emissions and relieve stress on our crowded freeways.”
Along with a unified effort to revitalize Missouri River traffic, a market and commodity analysis will take place. This study would determine the right approach for improving the Missouri River corridor by looking into traditional river products, examining the potential for containerized shipping and discovering ways to get more consistent operations even when water levels are low.
Dr. Ernie Perry, freight development administrator at MoDOT, said “Our goal is to increase the freight moved across these docks and onto the Missouri river, increase the connections to other transportation modes, and provide economic development opportunities along the river corridor.”
By Professional Mariner Staff