Metropolis-Massac Port Receives $1.5 Million For Feasibility Study At Former Ohio L&D 52 Property
The port authority that will own the former Ohio River Lock & Dam 52 property near Brookport, Ill., has been awarded money for a feasibility study once the property is transferred.
The state of Illinois awarded the Metropolis-Massac Port Authority $1.5 million for the study, with fund disbursements to be overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Currently, port officials are waiting for final documents that provide guidance for using the funds, Metropolis-Massac Port Authority executive director Scott Garrett said.
The port authority, which has existed on paper since 2009 but never previously had any tangible assets, was awarded the property as part of the 2020 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA). No deed of conveyance has yet been issued, however, as the final contract for demolition work at the site has not yet been completed.
“There have been several change orders on the project,” Garrett said, adding that some of those have included additional dredging.
Following the completion of the work, various federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, must complete inspections before a deed of conveyance is issued.
“We’re optimistic that by the end of 2023 we will have physical possession of the property,” Garrett said.
Funds for the feasibility study were included by the state for the fiscal year that began July 1. The funding is earmarked specifically for the port project. Once the funds are disbursed, the next step will be for the port authority to advertise for a request for qualifications (RFQ) and then to select a contractor through the competitive bidding process.
Port officials are open to all suggestions for the best use of the property, although likely uses could include a grain elevator or bulk shipping, including building materials such as sand and gravel.
“We’re casting our net very widely, and we’re open to any kind of suggestions,” Garrett said.
The port does not intend to operate a terminal itself at the property but could be a landlord for a terminal or perhaps a business partner with an interested developer, he said.
Not Paducah Competitor
Garrett stressed that the port should not be considered in competition with the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority across the river. Instead, he said, he hopes it will complement existing businesses at the Paducah port, giving them room for additional regional expansion along the riverfront.
“We don’t see ourselves in competition with the Paducah-McCracken County Port Authority at all,” he said. “In fact, we stress the regional economic impact.”
Once the former Lock and Dam 52 property is deeded to the riverport authority, it will have ownership of roughly 1,800 feet of river frontage on 19.1 acres at Mile 938.9.
The port authority has already been in discussions with private property owners and the city of Brookport, located about three-quarters of a mile from the property, about optioning other adjacent property, making about 12,000 feet of river frontage between Brookport and the city of Metropolis potentially available for development, Garrett said.
Garrett said he told a Paducah business operator who asked why river businesses would be interested in locating at the property that the port authority is not looking to entice businesses to move away from Paducah at all. Instead, he said, he is hoping that when they need more room because of their expanding footprint, they will consider operating a satellite facility across the river.
“What we anticipate is that because of the growth of your business, you’ll come to Massac County,” Garrett said he told the man.
Electricity is already available at the site, along with a roughly 40- by90-foot metal building built on a berm above the high-water level. Last year, the city of Brookport also replaced a water line running to the property. The property could also easily be annexed into the city of Brookport, extending the city’s fire and police protection, Garrett said.