Southeast Missouri Regional Port
Review and History

Southeast Missouri Regional Port is part of the Mississippi River System. Southeast Missouri Regional Port is over 110 nautical miles downriver (162 kilometers or 101 miles direct) south-southeast of the Port of St. Louis. Southeast Missouri Regional Port is almost 235 nautical miles (247 kilometers or 154 miles direct) north-northeast of the Port of Memphis, Tennessee.

Located on the Mississippi, Southeast Missouri Regional Port is about seven kilometers (4.3 miles) southeast of Cape Girardeau and about five kilometers (three miles) northeast of Scott City. Southeast Missouri Regional Port contains public terminals, slackwater harbor, access to interstate highways and railroads, and industrial sites.

Port History

In 1974, a group of local business people decided to establish a regional port authority to serve two Missouri counties: Cape Girardeau and Scott. Under State law, multiple counties had the ability to establish regional port authorities. The Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority met officially for the first time on December 9, 1974.

Unfortunately, the new Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority had limited funding, so construction did not begin right away. However, basic steps were taken to move the project forward. By early 1977, the Board of Commissioners had approved a contract funded by the Ozark Regional Commission for an economic feasibility study and the selection of a site for the Southeast Missouri Regional Port. The Ozark Regional Commission also worked to bring in industries and provided support for economic development of the area.

In 1979, the Board of Commissioners chose Gray's Point as the site for the new Southeast Missouri Regional Port and entered into a 99-year lease with West Lake Quarry and Material Company for 200 acres of their land.

In 1981, the first barge landed at the Southeast Missouri Regional Port's new temporary dock In October, a barge was loaded with lumber by Timber Export Products of Altenburg (Missouri). In December, a barge carrying 750 tons of iron sulfate arrived for off-loading from barge to truck.

In the meantime, the US Army Corps of Engineers conducted a navigational study that would support an $850 thousand appropriation to begin building a harbor. After the studies were finished, the Corps of Engineers announced that it would build the slackwater harbor. By late 1987, dredging was over half-way complete. The Corps did repair work on the earth bank slides in early 1988, and the harbor was finished and turned over to Southeast Missouri Regional Port.

During this early period, Southeast Missouri Regional Port had a harbor, a dock, a gravel road, and a water line; but it had no sewer system. Neither did it have paved streets, rail tracks, or electric or natural gas service.

The future industrial sites surrounding the new Southeast Missouri Regional Port were below flood level and unusable until extensive filling operations were completed.

In the early 1990s, Southeast Missouri Regional Port accomplished several important milestones. It had a facility that could handle growing barge traffic and cargo-handling activities. The Southeast Missouri Regional Port was also positioned to offer land for business uses. In early 1990, the Southeast Missouri Regional Port's first tenant, Midwest Agri-Chemico, came to the port. This wholesale farm fertilizer distributor signed a lease agreement with the Southeast Missouri Regional Port for 2.6 acres and 200 feet of harbor frontage.

In April 1990, Girardeau Stevedores and Contractors Inc. signed a contract leasing a new dock. It would operate the new Southeast Missouri Regional Port dock as a public terminal and provide barge loading/unloading services to all customers. Missouri State law promoted private operation of port terminals. Late in the month, the Southeast Missouri Regional Port was officially opened at a formal port dedication.

Attracting businesses as tenants was been slow when the Southeast Missouri Regional Port did not own land and could only sublet property to tenants. In early 1991, Southeast Missouri Regional Port purchased 170 acres that had been leased from West Lake Quarry. Accomplished through condemnation proceedings and a settlement agreement, buying the last removed a serious impediment to development of Southeast Missouri Regional Port.

In 1992, the first phase of construction of the Southeast Missouri Regional Port's rail line was completed. Securing rail line right-of-way and adjoining lands bought Southeast Missouri Regional Port property to 415 acres available for development. By the mid-1990s, Southeast Missouri Regional Port continued to expand. In 1994, Southeast Missouri Regional Port handled over 340 tons of cargo. By 2004, tonnage exceeded one million tons.

The Flood of 1993 was a major challenge for Southeast Missouri Regional Port, closing the Mississippi River north of Cairo to navigation. When water covered the dock for over a month, Southeast Missouri Regional Port operations had to be suspended while repairs were made.

The growth of Southeast Missouri Regional Port has been slow and sometimes frustrating. Success required the persistent commitment of the Board of Commissioners and the people of Cape Girardeau and Scott counties.

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