KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Supporters of riverfront development are trying to fight the perception that the Missouri River isn’t reliable enough for transport. Many ports along the river closed in the 1990s and early 2000s, but now that tide is turning.
On Tuesday, the Port Authority of Kansas City celebrated the millions of dollars it recently received from the state of Missouri.
Gov. Mike Parson was in town Tuesday for an event at the Woodswether Terminal in the city’s West Bottoms. Port KC needs a new dock at the terminal.
As part of the budget Parson signed over the summer Port KC got $7 million for this project alone.
“That’ll start in the spring and be completed in 2024, and we’ll start receiving barges and materials in 2024,” Port KC President and CEO Jon Stephens said in an interview with FOX4 Tuesday.
Stephens said the budget that Parson signed also included $30 million for Port KC to develop its second port in the northeast part of the city, where the Blue River meets the Missouri in northern Jackson County.
“The Missouri River Terminal is a 450-acre facility that, as you heard, will move shipping containers on vessels, truck and rail,” Stephens said in a news conference Tuesday.
“It will compliment this facility. It accommodates a massive growth of goods coming into and being exported out of Missouri to the world.”
Stephens said companies move bulk goods on the river like fertilizer and salt that will go on the roads in the winter.
As part of the fiscal year 2024 budget, the state has also secured funding to widen Interstate 70 in both directions from two to three lanes from Kansas City’s suburbs to St. Louis. Parson said the state’s ports are just as important as the state’s interstates.
“If you go to Europe, if you go to any nation — we just got back from Tokyo — you will talk about ports because those countries get it,” Parson said.
“They understand how that’s going to change the future of their economies and those counties. Missouri has that same opportunity to do that. We just got to get after it.”
Stephens said this is the fastest growing port in the Midwest.
“The supply chain needs movement of goods on rivers. We need movement of goods on rail, and we need movement of goods on trucks,” he said. “And by 2040, the amount of goods moving in and out of Kansas City is expected to double, and we don’t want all of that being on our highways.”
State and Port KC leaders also need a road and bridge extension for the Missouri River Terminal, 7 miles east of Woodswether. A Port KC spokeswoman said construction on that could start next year and be done in 2025.
Stephens also surprised Parson with a renaming of the Woodswether Terminal on Tuesday. It’s being renamed the Governor Michael L. Parson Port Terminal.