Wisconsin Grants $5.3 Million to Ports

Goal Is to Improve Freight, Economy
Port of Green Bay
Port of Green Bay Brown County via YouTube

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Wisconsin has awarded $5.3 million in grants for seven harbor maintenance and improvement projects to enhance its waterborne freight and economic development.

“From the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, Wisconsin’s unique geography provides our state opportunities to grow our economy and help our businesses reach markets worldwide,” Gov. Tony Evers said.

Improvements include changes to infrastructure such as dredging and dock work to improve agricultural freight transportation.

“These grants will help maintain our harbors and ensure our ports are secure and reliable, all while strengthening our supply chains and our commitment to our port cities,” he added.

Tony Evers


Funds were allocated from the State Harbor Assistance Program, created in 1979, to help 29 eligible public or private ports maintain and improve waterborne commerce.

“Strong multimodal transportation infrastructure positions Wisconsin’s businesses to succeed in a global economy,” noted Craig Thompson, secretary of Wisconsin Department of Transportation. “We are committed to improving our ability to move freight, and our harbors are a critical part of this strategy.”

With seven commercial cargo ports and six limited cargo ports, Wisconsin has access to international waterways along three of its borders.

The most funds ($2.4 million) were granted to the Port of Green Bay and two terminal operators. The port has 14 active terminal operators shipping commodities along a 3-mile stretch at Fox River. It handles dry bulk commodities (coal, limestone and salt), bulk liquids (petroleum), liquid asphalt and tallow. Other freight there includes break-bulk cargo (wood pulp and forest products) and oversized cargo such as machinery and wind components. Last year, Green Bay’s total inbound and outbound cargo (from 157 vessels) amounted to 1.75 million tons, 10% less than in 2021.

U.S. Venture Inc. plans to spend its $200,000 grant to dredge the riverbed to continue importing petroleum products to northeastern Wisconsin. Also receiving state money for dredging, Holcim US was awarded $1.2 million to help build a new docking facility to receive cement imports for regional construction projects.

The Port of Green Bay will get $1 million from the state to stabilize its existing shoreline with bulkhead fill and dock wall construction on new property at the Fox River’s mouth. An ambitious effort is underway to turn a 40-acre former power plant site into a new state-of-the-art port terminal for bulk cargo.

Generating jobs and regional economic growth, the new terminal project is also getting $10.1 million in federal Maritime Administration funds from a port infrastructure grant, awarded last October, to start construction next year. Federal dollars will help pay for truck scales, a new office building, roads, new dock walls and bulkheads, asphalt resurfacing and extending a rail spur with three switches. Completion is slated for 2025.

The Port of Green Bay, in the western-most part of Lake Michigan, has an extensive network of highways and railroads directly connecting it to regional markets and the Midwestern heartland.

Handling 1 million tons of commodities annually, the Port of La Crosse received the next highest amount from Wisconsin.

Hanke Terminal at La Crosse will receive $200,000 to repair a failing dock wall used to export agricultural commodities and import miscellaneous bulk goods.

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F.J. Robers Co. was awarded $1.1 million to repair and build a new dock wall to allow continued operation of a bulk commodity loading facility that moves local corn and soybeans, both critical to Wisconsin’s exports.

Located in La Crosse County where the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse Rivers meet, it has nine major freight transfer and fleeting sites. Most of its cargo moves from barges to trucks and onto Interstate 90 and U.S. Highways 14, 53 and 61.

The remaining state grants went to Perch Point at the Port of Milwaukee ($540,000 to build a dock wall for shipping shoreline protection materials along Lake Michigan) and Briess Industries Inc. at the Port of Manitowoc ($1 million for dredging to expanding maritime transport of agricultural commodities).