CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority on Thursday, January 21.
He visited the port, just south of Cape Girardeau on the Mississippi River, to discuss why he is proposing an additional $5 million in his Fiscal Year 2017 budget to expand Missouri's public ports.
Included in that funding would be $296,000 to help Semo Port raise almost a half-mile of railroad track 4 feet, so the track would be above normal flood levels.
Semo Port is one of 14 public port authorities in Missouri that have been created to help local economic development. The port links 1,000 miles of access on those rivers with railroads, highways, airports and pipelines to move Missouri commodities, goods and materials to markets around the world.
"Missouri sits at the crossroads of America's two greatest rivers, and 500 million tons of cargo flow on them each year," Gov. Nixon said. "Our ports are gateways to the world, and they are absolutely vital to using the rivers as a low-cost way to move what we produce to market, especially agricultural commodities. Helping our ports expand is a solid investment in our economy."
Gov. Nixon also toured one of the facilities at Semo Port, SEMO Milling, which mills corn into a variety of products.
The port is midway between St. Louis and Memphis and provides barge access to ports on the Gulf of Mexico that ship worldwide. Semo Port has its own switching railroad, and has access to several nearby railroads, interstate highways and petroleum product pipelines.
"With the expansion of the Panama Canal expected to be completed soon, Missouri's exports should continue the growth they have seen, reaching record levels in recent years," the Governor said. "Strengthening and expanding our ports will help Missouri farmers and manufacturers reach those worldwide markets in a cost-effective manner, and further boost our exports and economy. An added benefit is that moving goods by barge also reduces truck traffic, saving wear and tear on our highways."
The Waterways Unit of the Missouri Department of Transportation works with local governments in forming port authorities and provides technical assistance to the authorities to promote the use of the state's navigable rivers to make low-cost waterborne transportation benefits available to businesses.
Gov. Nixon's FY2017 budget includes a total of $8 million for capital improvement projects at the port authorities, an increase of $5 million from FY2016.
The Governor submitted his proposed budget to the General Assembly on Wednesday, before his annual State of the State address.
The Department of Transportation will recommend projects for consideration to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.
You can click here for a map of Missouri's public port authorities.