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No river barge traffic to travel to Muskegon port

Apr 23, 2015

Barge and ship traffic transport export cargo on the Mississippi River in the Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA on Sept. 9, 2005.
Credit USDA / Creative Commons

The U.S. Coast Guard is denying a request to allow barge traffic from entering the deep water port in Muskegon. It says it’s not safe enough and there are not enough potential economic benefits.

The flat-bottomed boats are already allowed to go to ports in Indiana and Milwaukee.

Michigan’s Agri-Business Association President Jim Byrum says it would be cheaper and more efficient to ship imported fertilizer to West Michigan farms, rather than putting it in on a truck or train in Chicago.

“Barges would’ve provided them a new, more economical, or faster and economical way to bring the product in. Not being able to access that technology suggests that we’re going to be looking at some other things,” Byrum said.

Byrum says railways or roads need to be improved to keep importing fertilizer at competitive rates.  

“We’re disappointed for the customers that could’ve used the service and we’re disappointed frankly for the Port of Muskegon,” he said.

The port will lose a lot of business when a coal plant in Muskegon shuts down next year.