Riverport completion delayed by drought

Riverport completion delayed by drought
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
After years of planning and hard work, Lake County’s Cates Landing project is almost within reach of being completed. If only the water level on the Mississippi River would cooperate.
The riverport project was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, but this summer’s drought has backed up the completion date to February 2013.
The Northwest Tennessee Port Authority met Tuesday morning in Dyersburg. The 40-minute meeting was dominated by progress reports on the Mississippi River port.
While the port board continues to wait on the river to rise, it is also waiting on several other key developments related to the riverport — a railroad extension to the port site, a master plan from informa economics and official word the port has been approved as a Foreign Trade Zone.
“They’re still working on that,” port authority member Marcia Mills told The Messenger about the rail connection.
Likewise, work is still being done to attain the FTZ status, she said.
As for the master plan, the port authority will now use $90,300 from the Delta Regional Authority and the USDA’s Rural Development to pay for the plan. With that funding now secured, the port board can expect to receive a full management report from the Memphis consulting firm. In the report, informa economics will recommend a port operator and a marketing strategy for the riverport.
Meanwhile, construction work is continuing on the land side of the port. A new warehouse is being built at the site, and work is continuing on lighting, water and sewer connections and electrical work.
Along the river side of the project, the low river levels are delaying completion of rip-rap installation, work on the piers walkways and dredging, according to Ms. Mills.
One of the issues facing work crews at the site are projections that call for the river levels to remain low into the near future.
That has delayed the project’s completion and has forced the port board to cancel a planned open house at the port site. The open house is expected to be rescheduled in the early spring 2013.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 10.11.12

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