Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky: Marine Highway Project Designation

More than 80 people gathered at BB Riverboats Conference Center on the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky for the winter member meeting of the Central Ohio River Business Association (CORBA).

Timothy Pickering, Operations Development Manager for the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MarAd), Office of Ports and Waterways Planning, was on hand for a major announcement, which was to present a Marine Highway Project Designation certificate to Mr. Mark Policinski, Executive Director of Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI).  OKI, the region’s metropolitan planning organization, applied for the designation on behalf of Nucor Steel, Gallatin County, Kentucky.  The Ohio River had previously been designated a U.S. Marine Highway Route, known as M-70.  The certificate formally designates a new short-haul service along the M-70, making it an approved project eligible for potential federal grant funding.

The project uses barge transportation to replace trucks connecting Nucor Steel's manufacturing facilities in Kentucky, with customers in the Cincinnati and Louisville markets and beyond.  The concept employs a regularly scheduled barge service to replace tractor-trailers used to transport steel coils, transporting 60 coils at once instead of one per tractor-trailer rig. According to the application, the new service is already replacing 500 tractor-trailer loads a month with barge transportation on the central Ohio River.  Arriving at the Port of Louisville, the coils can either find an efficient railroad connection, or go out by truck for local delivery to customers. In addition to OKI and Nucor, project partners include the Central Ohio River Business Association on behalf of the ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and the ports of Louisville, Brandenberg, Indiana-Clarke Maritime Center, and Paducah-McCracken County.

Pickering said the project is the 35th Marine Highway Project so designated by MarAd in the country, and only the second on the Ohio River [M-70].  Pickering said these Marine Highway Projects have been proven again and again to both reduce congestion, reduce emissions, and improve safety along these routes.

The announcement of the Marine Highway Project designation segued into the keynote of the day, which was a panel discussion entitled, “Intermodalism – The Waterborne Alternative”.   The panel focused on the potential for container on barge (COB) services to and from the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  Featured on the panel were Mr. Mike Leopold, Transportation and Logistics Manager for Mubea North America; Ms. Nicole Favorite, General Manager for Horizon Freight System Inc.; and Rich Teubner, Vice President of SEACOR AMH LLC.  The panel was moderated by CORBA’s Executive Director, Mr. Eric Thomas.  The panelists each made presentations about their particular perspectives in the transportation and logistics supply chains, and answered audience questions in an informal discussion format. Mr. Thomas indicated that CORBA will continue to formulate strategies to promote COB.

The meeting closed with the awarding of CORBA’s annual “Friend of the River Award”, awarded to Mr. Mike Doll of Peter Cremer North America.  Mr. Doll has spent his entire career working various positions on the Ohio River, and spent the past seven years as the Chairman of the Greater Cincinnati Harbor Maritime Control Committee, which focuses on environmental stewardship and security along the Ohio River, especially among hazardous material terminals and operators.



CORBA – The Central Ohio River Business Association – represents an alliance of businesses and industries engaged in river commerce on and along the Ohio River and her tributaries throughout the region. CORBA’s mission is to unite river business and industry to speak with a common voice in promoting commerce, safety and security, environmental stewardship and public relations for the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.