Missouri Barges Started Earlier
JEFFERSON CITY - Barges started running on the Missouri River at the end of February, one month earlier this year thanks to a warmer winter and good river conditions. After years of drought and last year's flood, the Missouri barge industry finally got an easier season.
Barges can transport material from the Jefferson City River Terminal to St. Louis in less than two days, and then to the Gulf of Mexico in about three weeks.
One barge of freight can carry about 1,500 tons, which is comparable to 58 tractor trailers or 13 railroad freight cars.
Vice President of Capital Sand Company, Steve Bohlken, said barges have their advantages because of the efficiency of the water. "The yardage or the bushel that you can get on the barge compared to trucks, and then the congestion of unloading and loading a truck, to whereas barge you can just unload right off the river. It's much more efficient," Bohlken said.
However, the barge industry is largely dependent on water. The uncertainty of river conditions during the past several years have been turning some consumers away from using barges.
A recent study from MoDot shows that more than 1.3 million tons of freight, which are currently transported on highways, could be moved on the rivers. Freight Development Administrator Cheryl Ball said transporting more freight on the rivers can help reduce traffic congestions. "Not every type of cargo is made to go on the water," Ball said. "Perishable goods or electronics, you probably wouldn't want to move them on a cargo, but they move on the trucks very well. So if we could move some of the types of cargo over to the river, and that makes rooms on the highways for some of the other. Because if you've been out there on I-70 lately, you know, there's not a whole lot of room for a whole lot of trucks right now."
Bohlken said he had some consumers coming back to barges this year, and he is expecting more people use barges with this year's better river condition.