PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - Some northwestern Indiana mayors are pushing for
construction of another shipping port along Lake Michigan, although other
officials question whether a new port is needed.
The mayors of Gary and East Chicago told a state legislative committee
meeting Thursday in Portage that building a second Indiana port on the lake
could boost the region.
"We see in regard to these ports it would be a good way to invest in the
future,” East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said.
Such a project worries Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper because the amount
of cargo handled by the state’s current port at Burns Harbor and other Great
Lakes ports has been declining, The Times of Munster and the Post-Tribune of
Copper said the Burns Harbor port has “enormous” capacity available and
could handle three to four times the cargo it does now with no additional
“There is no doubt about it, we won’t have to build another port with the
dock capacity we have today,” Cooper said. “A little more land would be
Joseph Berlin, an economist with engineering company URS Corp., told the
panel that bulk shipping of items common on the Great Lakes, such as iron
and coal, have declined. Iron ore tonnage has dropped from 60 million tons
in 1990 to about 40 million in 2010.
Berlin said most maritime shipping growth is in container transport, which
is less common on the Great Lakes because of seasonal restrictions and size
limits on ships using the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Cooper said the direct competitor for the Burns Harbor port is the Port of
Chicago, where a new private manager has pledged to deliver up to $500
million in facility improvements.
Committee chairman Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said he believed a market
study on the potential for a new port needed to be completed before
considering future steps. The committee could vote during a Sept. 26 meeting
on recommendations for the General Assembly to consider during next year’s