tugboat and barge on the water

Our Region’s River Network

A Flood of River Freight Accomplishments

Over the past decade, the OKI region has witnessed landmark milestones in our river freight transportation network.

  • In 2011, the Central Ohio River Business Association (CORBA) was formed as a 501(C) 3 not-for-profit organization.
  • In 2015, thanks to the advocacy of CORBA, the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority (The Port) and the Northern Kentucky Port Authority formally partnered to petition the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to re-designate the then-Port of Cincinnati’s jurisdictional boundary from 26 miles to 226.5 miles. This redesignation made the new port the largest inland port in the nation based on total annual tonnage in 2015 to 2018 and the second largest in years 2019 and 2020.
  • The State of Ohio was lead sponsor for the federal M-70 Marine Highway designation — along the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, connecting Pittsburgh, Pa. to Kansas City, Mo. to support waterborne freight transportation planning and investments. Other major cities on the route include Huntington, W. Va; Cincinnati; Louisville, Ky.; and St. Louis. The M-70 also connects the inland waterway to global water shipments via the Gulf of Mexico.
  • OKI kicked-off 2020 with federal approval of our America Marine Highway (AMH) Project Designation of the M-70 Barge Service in the Ports of Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Beyond becoming one of only 26 such designations in the country, at that time. This designation made the OKI region and our neighbors along the Ohio River eligible for new federal funding opportunities.
  • Also, in 2020 during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic, OKI served as the applicant for two Federal Rail Administration Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program Grants. They were with Ohio River terminal operators, Cincinnati Bulk Terminals, LLC, and Benchmark River and Rail Terminals, LLC. OKI was awarded a combined $2.3 million in new federal funding with the local matches covered entirely by private dollars. The goal: to increase safety, enhance efficiency, spur economic growth, improve air quality and reduce maintenance costs of river to rail freight transport.
  • In 2020 and 2021, OKI provided grant-writing assistance and endorsement to three American Marine Highway Grant applications with the Ports of Indiana-Jeffersonville; Nucor Steel-Brandenburg; and Nucor Steel-Gallatin; which were awarded more than $4.3 million combined in new federal funding to expand short-haul barge service and reduce highway truck traffic. 

Building upon these successes, with 156.2 miles of commercially navigable riverfront bordering six of OKI’s eight member counties, the region is primed to further advance river freight commerce. All totaled, this area contains 104 docks within 58 commercial river terminals, owned by 42 different private companies, and all supported with 35 fleeting areas.

Cranes and large platforms float along a barren, snowy field interlaced with roadways.

AMH Awarded Improvement: Nucor Steel Gallatin Marine Terminal
Source: Nucor Steel Corporation. (2022).

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