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Illinois puts another $3.4 million toward Cairo port project

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Alexander-Cairo port project

A barge navigates the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers near Cairo. Plans are for a multi-million dollar inland port to be built in the area.

The State of Illinois is putting another $3.4 million toward the development of an inland port in Cairo.

The funds, released through Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois Capital program, are to continue advancing the plans for the new Alexander Cairo District project. The money is expected to help complete federal environmental requirements and studies for the project. The additional funding was announced earlier this week by the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Previously, IDOT released $4 million to the Alexander Cairo Port District to launch preliminary engineering activities and other related work, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity released a $1 million grant for other work. In all, the state has committed more than $40 million to the project.

Almost 80% of the nation’s inland barge traffic travels past Cairo, where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers converge, with the site served by three major interstate highways and Class 1 railroads. Major logistics and commodities businesses already have committed to using the new port to move crops, container shipments and bulk products.

“The Cairo port is one of the core pieces of Rebuild Illinois and critical to maintaining our state’s status as the transportation hub of North America,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “The project will put people to work and strengthen the local economy while giving the region the opportunity to compete in the global marketplace.”

State Sen. Dale Fowler applauded the release of the additional funds.

“It's exciting to continue to see the project moving forward,” Fowler said. “Everybody’s wanting to see results – no one more than and the people in the region. I'm excited to see it starting to come to fruition.”

Peter Gray, spokesman for the Alexander Cairo Port District said the latest grant will allow the district to continue work toward making the port a reality.

Gray said, “We are proud to have completed the business development and preliminary engineering work under the first grant on time and under budget. Private sector partners are prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build the port once we successfully complete the environmental, engineering and market studies that are required for permitting and financing. We could not agree more that this project is vital for the economic future of the region.”

The port is planned as a public-private partnership between the Alexander-Cairo Port Authority – a governing board that includes officials from Alexander County, the city of Cairo and the Cairo Public Utility Company, which owns the land where the port would be located – and a private port operator.

Fowler added, “We all can't agree more that this project is to the economic future of the region. River transportation opportunities are growing each and every day, and it's the most economical form transportation that there is.”

Dignity and respect are at the forefront of Arrowleaf’s new client choice food pantry in the heart of Cairo after six years without a grocery store, according to Arrowleaf CEO Sherrie Crabb.

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