River Transportation Vital to Economy

Monday, August 25, 2003
The recent closure of the Mississippi River due to low releases of water flows from the Missouri River and drought conditions underscores the critical importance of river transportation infrastructure to the economy of the mid-west region and the nation. The Upper Mississippi River Basin and the Missouri River are essential to our nation's economy, as is the lock and dam system which makes the rivers navigable and provide major arteries for commerce in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. "More than 150 million tons of commerce valued at over $24 billion flows annually into, out of, and within the Upper Mississippi River Basin on America's Inland Navigation System. The building blocks of our nation such as grain, coal, petroleum and chemicals are dependent on these vital transportation arteries," said Barry Palmer, President & CEO of Waterways Work! More than 650 manufacturing facilities, terminals, power plants and docks located in the Upper Mississippi River Basin ship and receive tonnage on the river. 54 million tons of river transported grain commodities are exported to world markets. Over 27 million tons of coal are supplied on the river to more than 18 power plants providing electrical power generation to millions of residents and industrial facilities throughout the basin. The Port of Metropolitan St. Louis is the second largest inland port in the United States. "Our waterways transport cargo equal to 40 million trucks or 10 million rail cars each year. We must keep these vital water transportation arteries open and efficient for our nation's economy to flourish," continued Palmer.

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