JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio —
The Ohio Department of Transportation, alongside the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, hosted a meeting Monday morning in regard to the economic value of the Ohio River.
According to Mike Paprocki, executive director of the BHJ, Ohio has undertaken, through ODOT, an Ohio River maritime study.
“The first time that we’ve looked at the entire maritime from the great lakes to the Ohio River," said Mark Locher, maritime project manager.
“This is probably the most in-depth study they’ve gone through in the history of ODOT," Paprocki said. “How can we make it more efficient? How can we improve it?”
The Ohio River moves 34 million tons of cargo annually vs. 50 million tons on Lake Erie.
The difference, according to the study, is the value.
“There is literally billions of dollars more economic activity that happens on the Ohio River than the Great Lakes, and you think there are large ships on the great lakes but the ohio river is a very constant user, jobs a lot of potential," Locher said.
Transferring things like petro chemicals could be done by trucks or rail, but the efficiency of the river comes into play.
Without the river, there would be 760,000 more truckloads of cargo carried on our roadways each year.
And some current conditions of the river were brought to light during the study.
"Many of these lock and dams are at their end of their life time - a 50-to-7-year cycle. We want to come from the grassroots, so to speak, and get to the federal government, and see what can we do to solve these problems,” Paprocki said.