The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District, or TransPORT, is moving ahead with development of a public international marine terminal on the Illinois River. TransPORT executive director Steve Jaeger says the public port will enhance the movement of products manufactured in the Peoria area and sold to world markets.
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“What we’re presenting here is a terminal that will be able to handle, via a roll on—roll off ramp, basically rubber-tired, industrial machinery that can roll right on the deck barges and then move southward on the Illinois waterway into the Mississippi [River] and down to the Gulf Coast, servicing the ports of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Mobile, Gulfport, Houston, Galvaston, etc. and have the potential to save a lot of money to the heavy equipment industry in this area,” Jaeger said.
Much of the river traffic on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers is bulk commodities such as grains and other agricultural supplies as well as building supplies like crushed rock and sand. “The handling of finished goods by barge…is a relatively new concept and we believe it’s coming into its own at this time,” Jaeger said. He says with Caterpillar in the area and John Deere a short rail distance away, it’s a great opportunity to utilize the waterways.
A seven-acre parcel on the Illinois River in Pekin is where the new port will be located. TransPORT is navigating the way through the necessary applications and permits with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If all goes as planned, construction would start in 2013 with the port opening 12 months later.