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Riverport authority grant means safer work environment

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The Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority will match the state’s funding to complete the $96,830 project.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced last week the Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority would receive a grant of $48,415 for critical safety improvements.

The award, recommended by the Kentucky Water Transportation Advisory Board and administered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, will fund half of the cost to install a guardrail along the access ramps that lead to a grain unloading pit. The guardrail will be backfilled with stone to increase safety and efficiency for riverport employees, according to a news release.

Eddyville Mayor John Choat said he was not directly involved in obtaining the grant the port authority received.

“We have our own port board, and I’m encouraged that they got the grant,” he said. “We’ve got a really, really good port board out there, and they’ll put that money to good use on the docks.

Choat said he believes the improvements could mean more business for the port. The mayor also praised the port authority board members for their oversight of the facility.

“I’m really pleased with the port board that we have, and with their work and everything,” Choat said.

“Our Kentucky riverports play a unique and prominent role in our transportation system,” Beshear said. “Like other infrastructure, they need to be well-maintained through projects such as these to keep our people safe and operations running smoothly.”

The Eddyville Riverport and Industrial Development Authority will match the state’s funding to complete the $96,830 project. In September, the authority was awarded $109,890 toward repair of erosion of banks that support a boat lift near a boat repair bay. That project involved the driving of sheet piling along the bank, backfilling with embankment material and capping with rock.

“This grant comes from the Department of Transportation to aid in the improvements to riverports throughout the state of Kentucky, so it’s a grant program that focuses specifically on riverport improvements,” said Glen Kinder, spokesman from the riverport board.

“It means that we are going to get to address a safety concern that we have had for a period of time now,” he said. “It will allow us to move forward with putting up some guardrails on a ramp that goes up to one of our loadouts where local farmers offload grain from their trucks onto barges.” It will ensure the site “is a safe operating environment not only for the grain elevator, but also for all of the farmers from our local community who put their grain on a barge and ship it all over the world.”

Kinder said it’s difficult to know whether the improvement will mean an increase in business, “but it definitely will allow us to provide the safest possible environment to move and transport grain. We are always working with our grain elevator — with Gavilon specifically — to make sure we can provide the best environment for them to operate and also the safest environment.

“We always want to continue to invest in our community,” he added. “This is a competitive grant program that all the developed riverports in the state of Kentucky compete for, so we’re always excited when we get to bring dollars into Lyon County from this particular program. Annually there has traditionally been $500,000 available. This year in Eddyville alone, we were able to get over $150,000 of that $500,000. So, I would say that we’ve been very competitive in our applicant process, and we always like to partner with the local businesses. And we work very closely with Bacon Farmer and Workman Engineering that will be providing the engineering support for the project.”

The 2020 Kentucky General Assembly appropriated the funding for the grants, and riverports applied to the Water Transportation Advisory Board for the grants.

Transportation Secretary Jim Gray noted that the state has a comprehensive transportation system comprising multiple modes.

“Our waterways and riverports are as indispensable as air, rail and highway for the movement of cargo and bulk commodities,” Gray said. “They create high-wage jobs, support our economy and help keep Kentucky Competitive.”