According to the Tribune Review
, an aging barge fleet coupled with high scrap steel pricing
and demand from the biodiesel and ethanol industries has launched a barge-building boom, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the 1970s, industry experts say.
Brownsville Marine Products, LLC, of Fayette County
, hopes to cash in on the construction boom, and is building barges as it can, carrying on a tradition of barge building on that stretch of the Monongahela River that
began with the old Hillman Barge Co.
Nationally, a fleet of more than 27,000 barges moves over 800 million tons a year of raw materials and finished goods over the 25,000-mile inland waterway system, adding about $5 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to the trade group.
Brownsville Marine builds two types of barges: jumbo hopper barges, which can haul about 2,100 tons of coal, and cargo barges, which can haul about 2,100 tons of grain. The company hopes to expand into building tanker barges, capable of hauling liquid natural gas
, and platform barges, which could haul drilling equipment and railcars.
Last year, Brownsville Marine launched 28 barges. The company's target is to launch 80 to 90 barges this year.
The Brownsville site was previously operated by HBC Barge LLC
, which ceased barge-building operations in 2005 after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in federal court in Pittsburgh.
Source: Tribune Review