Charting a future course for Wisconsin waterways
Governor proclaims this week as Ports Week across the state
Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed August 18 to 24 Wisconsin Ports Week. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin (TDA) are teaming up to promote, educate and celebrate the network of ports that contribute to the state’s economy, environment and quality of life.
“Shipping on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River is critical to the overall success of Wisconsin’s multi-modal transportation network,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb. “Since 1980, the state has invested over $114 million in more than 80 public and private port improvement projects through our Harbor Assistance Program. It helps keep our economy growing and moving forward.”
Each year, Wisconsin’s 29 commercial ports handle more than 30 million tons of cargo and provide an important transportation alternative for the movement of goods and bulk commodities. The goods passing through Wisconsin ports annually generate over $1.6 billion in economic activity, and support almost 10,000 jobs. Ports are also used as hubs for passenger transportation (ferries) and for recreational activities.
Key products moved through Wisconsin’s ports and waterways include coal, cement, limestone, asphalt, heavy machinery, wood products, metal materials and steel, bagged and canned cargo, wind energy components, and farm and agricultural products.
“The timing is perfect to bring more public attention to Wisconsin’s ports, as a multiagency project team is working to determine how to best leverage our comparative advantage of marine freight transportation,” explained Ernest Perry, program manager at the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (CFIRE). “The focus of our project is on strategic port development, and to better assess the market and infrastructure conditions across both the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes systems. The project brings together all the partners who have unique yet complementary perspectives on the state’s ports. Our end goal is to have a clear vision for the future direction and role of ports and marine freight in Wisconsin and to ensure we have the needed industry input and relationships, as well as policies and support, to enable increased freight movement across Wisconsin waters and ports.”
Participants involved in the development of this strategic plan include: WisDOT, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Costal Management, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association, Brown County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and CFIRE.
According to Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin Executive Director Craig Thompson, “Wisconsin’s ports are a huge advantage for our state’s various industries and businesses, and are critical to the success of many of our key industries. The strategic plan, with its focus on future economic and community development, will help ensure the ongoing vitality of Wisconsin’s ports.”
This year, Wisconsin Ports Week coincides with the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association Annual Meeting and Conference, which will be held August 21 to 22 in Green Bay at the Neville Public Museum.
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