Panama Canal expansion could increase shipping traffic on Mo. waterways

Aug 18, 2011

Reporting from KRCU's Jacob McCleland used in this report.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials anticipate the Panama Canal Expansion Project will bring more shipping traffic to Missouri’s waterways.

Freight development administrator Ernie Perry says there won’t be a sudden boost in river traffic, but the larger canal will make river shipping more feasible.

“This is going to make the central United States, the Gulf, the Mississippi River and the Missouri River more attractive as a place to land these shipments versus the West Coast or the East Coast," Perry said. "They can come right up the waterway. It’s the most efficient way to get here. And then get distributed out of Missouri through your Southeast Missouri ports or on up the Mississippi or even the Missouri towards Kansas City.”

Perry says MoDOT will likely receive private sector support to upgrade port facilities to accommodate container shipments. Most inland waterway ports only handle bulk cargo instead of containers.

The widened Panama Canal is expected to open to traffic in 2014. It will double the waterway’s traffic.