Leaders discuss future Mississippi River Port

A group of federal, state and local leaders in May of 2017 look out over the Ohio River in May as they tour Cairo and discuss a future Mississippi River Port in the city.

SPRINGFIELD — As a budget goes to the governor’s desk, with it goes the dreams of Cairo’s port.

State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, confirmed that the $1 million line item in the state’s capital budget made it in the final draft that is expected to be signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

This $1 million funding, Fowler said, will cover the necessary permitting and design costs to get the ball rolling and to get further commitment from companies to use the port.

Fowler is proposing building a massive port terminal on the western side of Cairo that he estimates could bring close to 1,000 trucks per day to the city, which would also mean other satellite businesses coming to town.

Fowler earlier this year saw another big boost for the project — the Rauner Foundation donated $100,000 to the port effort that Fowler said covered the cost of media materials. He said these are what secured nearly 20 letters of interest from companies across the country who are interested in using the port in the future.

Todd Ely, a consultant on the project, said in May that should the $1 million be released, the project “is real and viable.”

At that point, he estimated it would take between 18 to 24 months to complete to permitting and design process, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits taking the longest.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Fowler said of the project but said this, added with the Rauner Foundation gift — $100,000 announced in January — has given momentum to the effort.

New $100,000 donation from Rauners' foundation could jumpstart Cairo Port project

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On Twitter: @ismithreports



Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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