A timeline was announced Tuesday for the new Alexander Cairo Port District in Cairo, Illinois, with groundbreaking planned at the end of next year and completion in late 2024. Thanks in part to a $40 million construction grant promised last year by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and an April labor agreement with the Illinois AFL-CIO, more than 500 jobs are expected to be created by the estimated $125 million to $150 million public-private partnership. Officials said a “state-of-the-art” Cairo port with an emphasis on “greenfield development and renewable energy,” to be located on the Mississippi River side and north of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, will have four strategic advantages over competitor ports.
80 percent of all U.S. inland barge traffic passes Cairo.
* Over 60 percent of the U.S. population is within an eight-hour drive.
* A Class 1 railroad (Canadian National), three major highways and Cairo Regional Airport serve the area.
* There are no locks, no dams nor any ice between Cairo and the Gulf of Mexico.
Officials said the planned 150-acre Alexander Cairo Port District will be able to move materials through quicker and more reliably and at a lower cost than many other ports. Officials pointed to plans for four all-electric “gantry” cranes, designed to move cargo directly from a barge to a truck or to a rail line without any additional handling. They say products can be moved with these cranes with a single lift rather than three and next-generation” container vessels are also envisioned, able to carry more than two times the capacity of a traditional deck or hopper barge.