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Port designation will add influence to river

More than a year ago, officials began working to make the Port of the Huntington Tri-State the largest inland port in the United States.

Wednesday, November 01, 2000

More than a year ago, officials began working to make the Port of the Huntington Tri-State the largest inland port in the United States.

They envisioned the project as a sound answer to attracting new industry and a better economy into the area.

Officials from Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia were scheduled to gather at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington for a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to make the project a reality. The hour-long event was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and featured several government officials including West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood and representatives from Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton’s offices.

Huntington Mayor Jean Dean and a representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also scheduled to speak during the dedication. The ceremony will also include 11 county commissioners and economic leaders from all three states.

"This is really a big event for the Tri-State area," said Ed Cheek, Combined Terminals Corporation spokesperson.

The new designation will make the Port of the Huntington Tri-State the largest inland river system in the United States and the sixth largest port overall, he said.

"The rewards of today’s dedication will be short in coming," he said. "We essentially will be going from 14 miles (of water-ways) being reported to 199 miles (of water-ways) being reported to the federal government."

The newly dedicated port will encompass the western border of Scioto County to Charleston, W.Va.

The mileage will include 100 miles of the Ohio River, nine miles of the Big Sandy River and 90 miles of the Kanawha River, he said.

He said officials report a total of 80 million tons of materials and goods transported on the three rivers each year.

"Pittsburgh only reports 52 million," Cheek said. "When we compare the data, we’re really ahead of Pittsburgh and St. Louis on the tonage moved through our area. Our Corps of Engineers are the engineers that cover all the ports in the U.S. When they go to Washington (D.C.), this will give them more ammunition to take with them for funding."

Major industries use the figures, too, he said.

"All of the infrastructure is here," Cheek said. "Industries are always looking to improve transportation. This (dedication) tells industry we have the water transportation they need. We have two class-A railroads. It will attract new barge lines and hopefully attract new people to the turf. This area needs all the positive publicity it can get because our industry has been hit hard. We have a lot of potential."