Those attending the Inland Marine Expo, which The Waterways Journal is hosting May 24-26 at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, will enjoy a schedule packed with speakers showcasing this year’s theme of “Rooted and Resilient.”
The return to an in-person format will allow opportunities for education, networking and visiting vendors’ booths, along with the return of the popular Maritime Throwdown competition and the IMX awards presentation and party. All events will be conducted with the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, social distancing, enhanced sanitation and other precautions in place to help ensure the safety of all participants: attendees, vendors, sponsors and staff.
State of the Industry
The opening session will delve into the state of the industry, featuring Ken Eriksen, senior vice president, head of client advisory and development, energy transportation and policy for IHS Markit.
As the industry moves forward from a yearlong pandemic that fractured global commodity supply chains, Eriksen will help participants take a look into a future shaped by the vaccine rollout as well as continuing effects on the market. Participants will learn about new opportunities beginning to emerge as well as calculating the impacts on towing companies, shippers and the economy.
Mary Lamie, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Freightway, will moderate a panel discussion on the effect of multi-state agricultural highway corridors with global and national connections to the supply chain. Joined by Eriksen, Adam Sparger, director of the Transportation Services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, and Tom Blair, St. Louis district engineer for the Missouri Department of Education, they will provide a comprehensive approach to learning about efficiently moving domestic agricultural products and supporting continued market competitiveness by providing global and national connections to the supply chain.
Lamie will also moderate a session on multi-state port collaboration creating wins for multimodal infrastructure, which includes progress on container-on-barge shipping. For this session she will be joined by panelists Dennis Wilmsmeyer, executive director of America’s Central Port; Neal Langdon, executive vice president of Arcosa Marine Products; and Ron Tindall, president of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. They will highlight the global connectivity of the St. Louis region’s rail and inland waterway system, supported by infrastructure and container-on-barge advancements.
Forward-facing sessions are an important part of the Inland Marine Expo, and participants once again have opportunities to learn about the latest technologies and designs, always with an industry-first perspective, while also including those that are cleaner and greener to meet rigorous environmental standards.
This year sessions will include looks at innovation in propulsion and design as well as a construction highlight, both from Joshua Slade Sebastian, engineering manager of The Shearer Group Inc. Topics will include electrification, fuel cells, liquefied natural gas and other technologies he believes will help “future proof” the industry.
Jim Mundth, manager of Caterpillar Marine’s sales territory that includes the inland waterways, will moderate a session on successful implementation of Tier 4 engines using Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.
A session on Kentucky riverports, including developments and growing importance to the inland marine industry, will include information about the ongoing Kentucky Riverports, Highway and Rail Freight Study. The study includes a series of summits the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is hosting to inform stakeholders and solicit their feedback. Jeremy Edgeworth, project sponsor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Chandler Duncan, project lead from Metro Analytics, and Eriksen and Paul Bingham of IHS Markit will talk about the results of market analysis and best practices from surrounding states, answering questions such as, “As coal volumes decrease, what commodities will take their place?” The implications stretch far beyond the borders of the Bluegrass State.
Infrastructure Funding And Future
Infrastructure continues to be a hot topic, both in industry discussions and among those in the federal government, with advocacy groups representing those aligned with various modes of transportation competing for limited dollars. Paul Rohde, vice president of Waterways Council Inc., will provide an in-depth look at infrastructure, including specific projects and the need for investment to prop up critical elements of the inland waterways system.
“With Olmsted Locks and Dam and the Lower Monongahela’s modernization projects completed, those at Kentucky and Chickamauga advancing, and Montgomery just starting, what’s the future of the Corps’ portfolio of projects?” he asks. Experts from the industry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will give their thoughts on the status of the portfolio of authorized lock and dam construction projects, industry engagement on Capitol Hill and the latest on an infrastructure package from Washington, D.C., as part of a session Rohde will moderate. They will also discuss how the trends in Corps funding impact reliability and capacity.
“Over the past decade, recent Congressional funding and authorization legislation has begun a trend of advancing, and in some cases, completing, construction projects on the inland system,” Rohde said. “Increases to the Corps’ Operation and Maintenance account has also been a positive development.”
Registration for the Inland Marine Expo is open at https://inlandmarineexpo.com/.