Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Some NWI mayors back new Lake Michigan port

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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 Merrillville reported.

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 investment.

“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 nice.”

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 session.

 

 

Posted 9/13/2013