Recently an international agreement was signed in Panama City, Panama that could enhance traffic on the Ohio River. Local officials say the agreement is good for southern Ohio and could have an impact locally.
According to released information, a memorandum of understanding was signed earlier this month between the Panama Canal Authority and the Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals. This agreement is the first of it’s kind and will impact all inland river ports, terminals and river-borne transportation services.
Among those in attendance at the signing was Megan Barnes, vice president of marketing and business development at Superior Marine Ways, Inc. and the manager of the Port of South Point. While at the event, Barnes gave a presentation on the impact of the Ohio to the region and global shipping.
Jason Kester, executive director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority said the agreement could have a local impact on the Ohio River.
He said Scioto County is served by the Port of Cincinnati and the Port of Huntington.
“The port of Cincinnati, the port of Huntington and the Central Ohio River Business Association are working together to try and get more river traffic. Once the expanded Panama Canal opens, there will be more ocean traffic. When ships come out of Asia (and other parts of the world), they will be able to come to the Panama Canal,” Kester said.
Kester said currently big ships can’t travel the Panama Canal. The canal is undergoing an expansion and once opened, bigger ships can get through to provide goods and services quicker. Currently, bigger ships have to travel around South America and unload on the other side of the United States once the expanded canal opens, larger ships will be able to dock on the east coast of the United States.
According to released information about the Panama Canal expansion, “(the) expansion is one of the biggest developments in maritime trade in decades and the largest project at the canal since its original construction. When the canal first opened in 1914, it cut 8,000 miles and several weeks of transit time off the journey between the Pacific and the Atlantic (Oceans). Widening the canal will once again transform the flow of trade in North America, by creating a new lane of traffic along the canal.”
“The regional river contingent, sent a group of people to Panama to sign the cooperative agreement. The agreement says the participating agencies and organizations would work together to increase river traffic based on the expansion of the Panama Canal,” Kester said.
When asked about potential local effects of this agreement Kester said, “it could. If we could get more commercial products shipped on barges, that would be a big help to us. “
He said there are a few factors that could impact river shipping and would be interested to see how it all plays out.
Kester said the Ohio River has and will continue to be a resource to the area and the region.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933 or @WayneAllenPDT on Twitter