Friday, August 19, 2011

Panama Canal expansion should bring more river traffic to Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Missouri Department of Transportation officials anticipate the Panama Canal Expansion Project will bring more shipping traffic to Missouri’s waterways.

Freight development administrator Ernie Perry says there won’t be a sudden boost in river traffic, but the larger canal will make river shipping more feasible.

"This is going to make the central United States, the Gulf, the Mississippi River and the Missouri River more attractive as a place to land these shipments versus the West Coast or the East Coast," Perry says. "They can come right up the waterway. It’s the most efficient way to get here. And then get distributed out of Missouri through your Southeast Missouri ports or on up the Mississippi or even the Missouri towards Kansas City."

Perry says MODOT will likely receive private sector support to upgrade port facilities to accommodate container shipments.

Ocean-bound freighters, trains and trucks all transport goods in containers.

That’s not the case on inland waterways, where goods are moved as bulk cargo. And that could be a holdup if more freight is going to load or unload at Missouri’s ports. But Perry believes the problem it can be done.

"You can get started right off the bat with cranes in all yours systems to load containers, unload them," Perry says. "We can get started one step at a time, and that’s what basically would be needed. That, along with the space. And our ports have that. Those types of facilities and that type of equipment in most cases."

The biggest obstacle would be different logistics and scheduling operations for bulk cargo and containers.

The widened Panama Canal is expected to open to traffic in 2014. It will double the waterway’s traffic.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU
Photo: A ship passage through the Panama Canal. Wikipedia Commons.


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