Former Lock And Dam 52 Property To Be Conveyed To Metropolis-Massac Port Authority

Former Ohio River Lock and Dam 52 property near Brookport, Ill., is being conveyed to the Metropolis-Massac Port Authority later this year.

The provision was written into the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 with the support of legislators on both the Illinois and Kentucky sides of the river. The deed conveyance will take place once the final government contract for demolishing the former Dam 52 is completed.

“We’ve had our eye on the Dam 52 property for a long time,” Metropolis-Massac Executive Director Scott Garrett said.

Section 356 of WRDA gives the port authority “all right, title and interest of the United States in and to any real property located north of the south bank of the Ohio River in Massac County, Ill., that is associated with the Ohio River Lock and Dam 52.”

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The port authority has been in existence since 2009, although it has not had any tangible assets. Board members are Richard Kruger, chairman, along with Sue Sandusky, Randy Rushing, Nelda Burnett, John LaFont, Chris McGinnis and James Nix.

With the acquisition of the former Lock and Dam 52 property, the port authority will own 19.1 acres at Mile 938.9, with approximately 1,800 feet of river frontage. The only structure to be left on it when demolition is complete is a 40- by 90-foot metal storage building on a berm above high water. Although built in 1970, it is in excellent condition, Garrett said.

The board would consider options to lease portions of the property or to enter into a partnership or other type of development. However, it is not interested in being a riverport operator, Garrett said.

“We don’t have any intention of being operators, and we don’t see ourselves to be in competition with the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport,” he said. “If we try to get in competition with Paducah, that will simply hurt both of us.”

Instead, he said, the board would like to enter into a partnership with a port operator to expand regional development at the site, believing the Illinois property could serve as an excellent satellite facility. 

As an example, he said, companies already located across the river in Paducah that wish to expand could face a lack of available property with river frontage upstream.

“Major expansion is likely to be downriver,” he said. “Here we are.”

Advantages of the property include that it is at a higher elevation than property on the Kentucky side of the river and that infrastructure exists, including an industrial-strength road and a large electrical grid because of the location of nearby Electric Energy Inc. in Joppa, Ill.

Based in part on past interest in the property, Garrett believes it could be a successful location for agriculture or agrichemical companies, logging companies or as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) loading facility.