Kentucky Provides Grants To River Ports
Five public Kentucky riverports have received $450,000 in state funds for critical repairs and equipment replacement, Gov. Andy Beshear’s office announced September 8.
The Kentucky Riverport Improvement grants are to be matched at least 50 percent by the authorities that operate the riverports in Paducah, Eddyville, Henderson, Owensboro and Louisville.
“One of our greatest natural assets in Kentucky is our abundance of navigable waterways, and river commerce is an indelible part of our rich history,” Beshear said. “Our Kentucky riverports help move the nation’s cargo, and it is essential to keep them modernized and well maintained.”
The awards were recommended by the Kentucky Water Transportation Advisory Board and administered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray stressed the importance of Kentucky’s comprehensive transportation system, including transportation on the inland waterways.
“Riverports are as indispensable as air, rail and highway for the movement of cargo and bulk commodities,” Gray said. “They create high-wage jobs, support our economy and help keep Kentucky competitive.”
Henderson County Riverport Authority
The Henderson County Riverport Authority received $108,000 toward removal and replacement of two, 40-year-old damaged mooring dolphins essential to operating the port’s loading docks.
“When the port was first built around 1980, those were the original structures,” Executive Director Greg Pritchett said.
They had come to the end of their useful lives and needed replacing, he said.
The total cost to replace the dolphins is estimated at roughly $230,000, Pritchett said. The riverport is finalizing grant acceptance documents and hopes the replacement project will be complete by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2021.
He stressed the importance of the project.
“We have an existing customer base,” Pritchett said. “We’re always looking for new customers, but in order to satisfy our local industries, we have to maintain a state of good repair, so it’s important that we do appropriate repairs and restoration work when needed so we can keep those goods flowing to those local and regional industries.”
Louisville Riverport Authority
The Louisville Riverport Authority received $95,792 toward replacement of 1,000 crossties and 49 switch ties that underlie rail lines within the riverport. As the wooden ties wear out and lose the ability to hold spikes, rails can shift, requiring track closure for repairs and potentially posing the danger of derailment.
“Railroad ties deteriorate and must be replaced,” Louisville Riverport Authority Vice President Matt Yates said. “The state’s support allows us to provide a higher level of maintenance to avoid problems.”
He noted that the Louisville Riverport Authority owns and oversees 13 miles of rail, giving the port and local companies access to three railroads: CSX, Nofolk Southern and Paducah & Louisville.
“Rail, along with river and highway, provide a strong multimodal advantage for those seeking options in shipping and receiving their commodities,” Yates said. “With increased rail traffic comes a higher demand for maintenance than ever before to ensure safe, uninterrupted movement of goods.”
The next step in the tie replacement project will involve identifying specific ties and locations as well as putting the work out for bid, he said, adding that the riverport expects all work to be complete by early 2021.
Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority
The Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority received $16,236 toward the repair of a chute on its conveyor system that moves commodities from the river to the riverport’s sand and gravel lot. Loss of the chute’s use has idled a concrete storage pad that can hold 2,000 tons of bulk material.
The port’s main conveyor takes inbound bulk material from barges and transfers it via one of three chutes to a rock and sand yard conveyor, a fertilizer building or to the concrete pad. The pad’s chute has been inoperable.
According to an engineer’s report attached to the grant application, “The rotation mechanism is worn and deteriorated beyond repair. This has reduced the number of available stockpile locations due to a reduction of available stockpile conveyors. The worn mechanism is a choke point of the bulk storage process and needs to be replaced as soon as possible, along with the associated chutes, guards and gates. This mechanism is at an end-of-life status.”
The riverport has been unable to use the chute and storage area for a few months.
“By rebuilding the chute it will allow us to bring in additional cargo or additional product,” Executive Director Tim Cahill said. “For us this allows us another opportunity to diversify our product line and/or customer base.”
Owensboro Riverport Authority
The Owensboro Riverport Authority received $120,082 toward the purchase of a front-end loader for daily handling of bulk products, including corrosives such as fertilizer and ammonium nitrate. The loader will replace an unreliable, 11-year-old machine.
“The KRI funding program is critical to all the public ports,” Owensboro Riverport Authority President and CEO Brian Wright said. “Most all our ports were built in the late ‘60s or ‘70s, and it’s an ongoing challenge to fund infrastructure development.”
The funding allows the port to allocate its resources for other infrastructure improvements, he said.
Eddyville Riverport & Industrial Development Authority
The Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority received $109,890 toward the repair of eroding banks supporting a boat lift near a boat repair bay, according to the governor’s office. The project will involve driving sheet piling along the bank, back-filling with embankment material and capping it with rock.