America's Marine Highways and the Missouri River

Mid-America Freight Coalition 

We’ve had a couple of questions about the article on America’s Marine Highways in the most recent issue of Freight Notes. In response to a query about the M-70 corridor and ports on the Missouri River upstream from Kansas City, MVFC Facilitator Ernie Wittwer had this to say:

The M-70 corridor runs from Pittsburg to Kansas City. The rationale for the program is to relieve congestion on the landside modes, in this case along the I-70 corridor. Within its limits, the corridor does hold the prospect for reducing congestion in a number of bottleneck cities, including Kansas City and St. Louis. Most of the corridors terminate either in major urban areas or at other Marine Highways.
Several ports do exist North of Kansas City, and are experiencing renewed activity and interest in waterborne freight. Any actions that might be taken under the program to improve navigation between Kansas City and St. Louis and South to New Orleans (on the M-55 corridor) will enhance the services to points North of Kansas City.
As a practical matter, the Northern termini probably will have little affect on ports North of Kansas City. First of all, at this point, the program has little funding. The US DOT recently announced the award of $7 million in grants to seven Marine Highway projects. Clearly that amount is but a very small down payment on the program. To make the corridors attractive enough to alter shipper behavior, a much larger investment will be needed. Secondly, those state and federal agencies now trying to revitalize shipping on the Missouri, most notably the MODOT, have an interest in the entire navigable portion of the river.

For more information about America’s Marine Highway program, contact Bob Goodwin ( at MARAD. And for more information about MODOT’s efforts to revitalize shipping on the Missouri River, contact Ernie Perry (

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