April 7, 2021: The Moulton Advertiser (full link below)
NARCOG to begin inland port study
The North Central Alabama Regional of Governments (NARCOG) is planning a feasibility study for an inland port at possible sites in Lawrence, Morgan, Limestone and Cullman counties after the organization recently received a $65,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
NARCOG Executive Director Robby Cantrell called the inland port “an integral investment for the region,” as automotive and aviation industries continue to grow in the area.
“Locating an inland port within the region would provide an important piece of the solution for addressing the ever-increasing volume of traffic moving goods in and out of the Port of Mobile,” he said.
Economic and industrial boards in Lawrence, Morgan and Limestone counties, and the Morgan County Commission are supporting the idea, according to Cantrell. He said NARCOG has received $55,000 from the entities for the effort.
Tabitha Pace, President and CEO of the Lawrence County Industrial Development Board, said Lawrence County invested about $5,000 in the study. She said NARCOG would consider two potential waterfront sites inside the county along the Tennessee River.
“We saw the importance in investing. No matter where they place the inland port, as neighboring areas, we will all benefit from it,” she said.
Although the former International Paper site in Courtland has a barge docking facility, Pace said the facility differs some from the inland port NARCOG is planning. She said the IDB does not own or control the former IP property, and it is not being considered in the study.
Cantrell said participating counties’ investment, in addition to the Appalachian Regional Commission $65,000 grant, brought project funding to $120,000.
“The study will explore how an inland port located in our region could contribute to reduced highway maintenance costs, reduced emissions from trucks, and an increase in employment and other economic impacts positively benefiting the entire State of Alabama,” Cantrell said.
He said the next step includes a request for proposal for the preparation of the feasibility study. Cantrell expects the work to begin around June 1 with project completion by Sept. 30.