Illinois Senate Strongly Supports New Rock Island Port District
On March 23, the Rock Island (Ill.) Regional Port District came a step closer to becoming a reality when the Illinois Senate passed a bill creating it with almost unanimous support. While the bill still has to clear the House and be signed into law by the governor, the port district enjoys strong bipartisan support.
The bill was written by State Sen. Milek Halpin (D-Rock Island), who said when he introduced the bill March 9, “There are 19 other regional port districts in Illinois, and I believe that it makes sense economically to create one here in Rock Island. The Rock Island Regional Port District has the potential to bring economic development and job creation to the area, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this district will have on our community.”
Plans call for the Rock Island Regional Port District to be established within the limits of the city of Rock Island, with the Rock Island City Council serving as the district’s governing and administrative body. The new district would have bonding authority, which would help finance projects that assist with transportation. Port districts can issue permits for wharves, piers, dolphins, booms, weirs, breakwaters, bulkheads, jetties and bridges.
“If this legislation makes it through the house and is signed by the governor, it will be the first time in U.S. history that the Quad Cities will have a state-recognized port,” said Robert Sinkler, a consultant and former commander of the Rock Island Engineer District who has been instrumental in organizing statistical port districts in the region.
“The Quad Cities is the only interstate highway crossing on the Mississippi River that doesn’t have a nearby state-recognized port,” Sinkler said. “The Quad Cities is also the only interstate highway crossing of a waterway in Illinois that doesn’t have a nearby state-recognized port.” This is strategically important. The four Corn Belt Ports will primarily continue to be nationally and globally significant bulk cargo ports. But with state ports at all interstate crossings on the Upper Mississippi River (Marine Highway 35) and the Illinois Waterway (Marine Highway 55), we will likely be in a much better position to support the containerized cargo hub-and-spoke concept often talked about by Mary Lamie from the St. Louis Regional Freightway.”