Thursday, March 11, 2010

Moving down the Missouri River... Again!

Six thousand tons of fertilizer on top of four barges began its Missouri River trek from St. Louis to Brunswick, Mo. on Thursday morning. In previous years, especially over the past eight, most who would hear or read this news would probably say that can't be true. Well, believe it!

Since 2002, drought and low water levels basically shut down shipping on the Missouri River corridor -- in fact, river traffic became almost non-existent because water levels were so low. Well, for the start of the 2010, water levels are back up! Thanks to healthier water levels, this large 6,000-ton load of fertilizer is signifying the start of what many hope will be a very prosperous waterway shipping year.

Moving freight on the Missouri River provides many advantages compared to moving freight in other modes. The most immediate include cost savings and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. For example, it costs .72 cents per ton, per mile, on a barge to ship commodities or products -- compared to more than 26 cents per ton, per mile, for semi-truck trailers to move freight.

One barge full of freight on the Missouri River roughly equals the same amount of cargo found inside 70 semi-truck trailers. That's an impressive amount of gas and emissions saved.

I would say it's a great early start to the Missouri River shipping season when you can move so much cargo with just one waterway shipment. Hopefully many more will follow.