Helena Harbor has received a $2.9 million federal grant for a barge terminal project, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced.
The funds will go toward purchasing equipment to operate the terminal and equip the bridge crane to handle containers at the 4,000-acre industrial park and slack water harbor. The project aims to provide improved access to the terminal and more efficient and effective material handling capabilities.
John Charles Edwards, general counsel and economic development director of Helena Harbor, said the grant is the largest single infrastructure and equipment investment in the harbor's history. He said the funds come "at a critical time where the need for developing inland river ports has become very clear."
“Developing cost effective transportation options that will utilize the Mississippi River is good for private businesses, takes stress off our highway network and is good for the environment,” Edwards said in a news release.
Helena Harbor is located on the Mississippi River about one hour south of Memphis. The barge terminal project is one of 12 awarded nearly $39 million total through the America's Marine Highway Grant program. The program aims to strengthen supply chains and national security by adding to the nation's strategic sealift resources and providing transportation alternatives during times of disaster or national emergency.
“At a time of record demand for goods, it’s more important than ever to strengthen our supply chains so our manufacturers can grow and American families can get the things they need quickly and affordably,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a news release.
The barge terminal project is part of a larger expansion underway at the port. Last week, Helm Fertilizer Terminal Inc. of Memphis began construction on a $12 million project that will more than double its pre-2018 capacity to offload, blend and store fertilizer. And in February, the Delta Regional Authority awarded the harbor $745,000 that will be used to pave a portion of Helm Road that is still gravel.