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One of Missouri's great economic assets has been here longer than we have: The Missouri River.

From early in Cole County's history, the steamboat trade played an important part in transportation, shipping and overall development of the region.

Now, a public-private partnership hopes to create a Container-on-Barge Project on the Missouri River to expand options for transporting goods along the waterway. As we recently reported, the project is being funded through the U.S. Department of Transportation, which awarded Missouri one of six Marine Highway Project designations around the country.

MoDOT and the U.S. DOT will partner with AGRIServices of Brunswick, which will begin transporting agricultural products from central Missouri to international markets in the Gulf of Mexico as early as next year.

AGRIServices is one of the biggest full-service agricultural retailers, wholesale fertilizer distributors, grain elevators, feed suppliers and multimodal transportation providers on the Missouri River.

The project will use the state's abundance of rail containers to move products and to accommodate the expected increase in freight volume capacity needed in the upcoming years.

While the project is more evolutionary than revolutionary, it does have the potential to streamline transportation for Missouri products, including agriculture.

That, as Missouri Agriculture Director Chris Chin said, can help Missouri farmers and businesses to be more competitive on the global market.

The project shows despite modern technology and inventions, the Missouri River still is an important source of transportation for our products.

News Tribune

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