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February 8, 2021 10:30 AM, EST

Mississippi Transportation Commission Issues Funding for Port Improvements

Port of Greenville, Miss. The Port of Greenville received $400,000 in multimodal funding from the Mississippi Transportation Commission. (Port of Greenville, Miss., via YouTube)

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The Mississippi Transportation Commission recently awarded approximately $768,000 in multimodal funding to enhance port operations in the western part of the state.

The three-member commission oversees the state’s transportation resources and supervises all modes of transportation related to highways, ports, aeronautics, public transit and railroads. Specifically, the funding was split between the Port of Greenville and the Mid Delta Regional Airport. The Port of Greenville received $400,000, while the airport received $368,663.

Situated on the Mississippi River in the west-central portion of the state, the Port of Greenville offers services such as warehousing and transloading between truck, rail and barge transportation. The airport is located about 12 miles northeast of the Port of Greenville.

“These funds will go a long way in making the western part of the state what it needs to be because Greenville has all modes of transportation, which include the airport, port, railroads, public transit and our highways,” said Willie Simmons, commissioner for the Mississippi Transportation Commission’s central district. “We should strive to make this a transportation hub for west Mississippi. Infrastructure investment is what is needed to make this work. If we build it, they will come.”

Agriculture is the state’s leading industry, according to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Agricultural products represent an important aspect of the state’s exports, according to Joseph Lane, an assistant professor of geography and sustainable development at Delta State University. Located in Cleveland, Miss., Delta State University is within 40 miles of Greenville.

Joseph Lane

Lane

When Lane came to Mississippi from Michigan, he said he was immediately struck by the amount of corn, cotton, soybeans and rice that was farmed. He noted the Mississippi Delta is particularly conducive to growing crops. The region includes the northwest portion of the state, which acts as a flood plain for the Mississippi River.

“The climate is very good,” Lane told Transport Topics. “The soil is very good. Their methods of agriculture are very good. It is essentially flat as a table [with] very few trees and economically farmed very, very well.”

Besides these crops, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce lists poultry, cattle, catfish, hay and sweet potatoes as some of the state’s top commodities.

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According the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the port funding will support connector road improvements. Lane said trucks play an important role in transporting agricultural commodities. He pointed out trucks, unlike railroad cars, can go directly into a field to be loaded and then travel to the port. Lane also said many private farmers have their own elevators, allowing them to store grain and load product onto trucks throughout the year.

“I have seen farm trucks consistently,” Lane said. “I’ve watched it with my best eye. They run all year.”

The grant funding comes from MDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Improvement Fund, which allocates money each year to support airports, seaports, railroads and public transit systems. A multimodal committee specific to each mode of transportation reviews and approves grant applications, which include project details and requests for funding.

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