BHJ to Host Regional Meeting about Ohio River and the Economy

BHJ to Host Regional Meeting about Ohio River and the Economy

The largest share of freight carried on the Ohio Maritime Transportation System (MTS) – 58% – is carried on the Ohio River. Rulk commodities, notably coal, iron ore, limestone, grain and petroleum products move along up and down the river to the tune of $12M per year.

At the end of 2017, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) completed and MTS system study, identifying ways to leverage waterways for economic gain and growth.

The study asked the following questions:

  • What asset and services comprise Ohio’s MTS?
  • Who are the existing and potential users of Ohio’s MTS?
  • What are options for ODOT’s role in maritime freight transportation, including policies, plans, and actions?

These questions will be put to regional leaders at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 11, when BHJ hosts a meeting to discuss the plan and how to implement its recommendations.

Mark Locker, Maritime and Freight Mobility, ODOT, and Ron Coles, W.R. Coles and Associates, will make a presentation that includes a report on the study’s findings, the goals and milestones for 2018 implementation and a proposal for the creation of an Upper Ohio River User Group.

BHJ has coordinated the meeting so that both the public and private sectors, with representation from Ohio and West Virginia, will hear the report and proposal. The purpose of the Ohio River User Group will be to identify and prioritize issues related to river commerce, and provide a formal channel of communication between local, state and federal leaders.

The Maritime Strategy is comprised of seven working papers, which can be found HERE.

Ohio’s MTS is a key component of the state’s multimodal freight transportation system. It includes:

  • 2 major waterways: Lake Erie and the Ohio River
  • 736 navigable miles of waterway, including 264.6 coastal miles along Lake Erie, 11 navigable miles along the Maumee River, 9 navigable miles along the Cuyahoga River, and 451.4 river miles along Ohio’s portion of the Ohio River
  • 8 principal ports on Lake Erie, including the Ports of Cleveland and Toledo, and dozens and docks and terminals along the Ohio River
  • 162 commercial docks, the majority of which are along the Ohio River
  • 9 locks and dams on the Ohio portion of the Ohio River

The ports, terminals, and docks that provide connectivity to Ohio’s MTS handle between 80 million and 100 million short tons of freight per year (2011-2015).

Ohio’s freight reliant industries — defined for purposes of the Ohio Maritime Study as including all goods-producing industries together with utilities, wholesale and retail trade, and transportation and warehousing — produced $238 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014, or about 40 percent of Ohio’s total GDP. The freight reliant industries also account for approximately 1.9 million jobs (2015), or about 35 percent of total employment in Ohio.

Following the inaugural meeting, BHJ will work with attendees to establish and coordinate the efforts of the Upper Ohio River User Group, whose input will be vital in capitalizing on economic opportunities in the BHJ region.