Port of Hickman is one of three ports to be challenged by Cairo development.
The state of Illinois made a commitment of four million dollars to the Alexander--Cairo Port Project on June 2, 2021. Another 40 million dollars is in the Illinois state budget for full funding the project's start. Much of this money will be spent on advance engineering designs and land construction for the new port. Full funding for the port project will be around $300 million over 10 years. Additional funds are planned to come from private sector partners, and investors.
The long dreamed of new port will be constructed one half mile from the confluence of the Ohio River and the Mississippi River. Initial plans call for the hiring of 500 union construction jobs. The plan also calls for the construction of two high speed cranes for moving containers between ships and trucks and trains and storage areas.
The first phase will be to prepare approximately 350 acres bordering the Mississippi River on the west side of Cairo for processing cargo.
Upon completion, Cairo will will dominate the entire river trade in mid-America. The nearest ports to Cairo presently are Paducah and Hickman in Kentucky and Gates Landing in Tennessee. Each of these have problems with going forward into the long-range operations of a new river trading economy.
Paducah's relationship with the Ohio River has been strong since early years of 1840s up through 2010. However, within the past decade, strategic planning for this part of Kentucky has not been effective in linking up potential commerce in the region.
Paducah marine companies used the city as a command point for river trade coordination. Yet, these companies are being slowed by the inability of McCracken County and Paducah leaders to fully understand the full potential of the Ohio River and the Mississippi River to the long-term future of the region.
The Port of Hickman serves local agriculture loads when the river channel is clear of debris or sand deposits built up in the harbor. This harbor needs to undergo a full strategic planning exercise to best determine how to go forward.
Gates Landing, Tennessee is the most disappointing river port in our region. With a bad physical design linked into serious river waters management, the port has not performed up to its plan.
The development of naming, designing, and construction of the Cairo site will change the center of gravity for river port operations. All other ports now must contend with how they will be invited to share the future river trade of Mid-America.