Better Utilizing Marmet Locks Would Create WV Jobs

Charleston Gazette
7 May 2017

Letter to the Editor

West Virginia and, especially, Kanawha County need to take advantage of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s work of upgrading and improving the Marmet Locks.
Regrettably, with the downturn in coal markets, the locks are not being fully utilized to ship coal to the Mississippi, as they were intended. We need to improve the state’s freight infrastructure to take advantage of the modal freight volumes and commodities other than coal, gas and oil.

Instead of merely using the locks to ship goods out of state, why don’t we us the locks to ship goods in? We should take advantage of the improved locks by creating an inland port and distribution center above the Marmet Locks. The goods can be unloaded and shipped by rail and trucking companies and barges, creating hundreds of new jobs. Trade routes are changing along with new markets, resulting in greater demand and access into and out of various distribution centers. Intermodal transportation by truck and rail can speed up corporations’ supply chains, reduce logistic costs and improve the distribution and warehouse market.

This inland port would spur economic investment in Eastern Kanawha County and be a positive economic benefit for West Virginia. A new inland port would give international corporations a message about West Virginia’s ability to adapt and innovate with developing markets. The state cannot develop an inland port with its limited resources, but with the proper nudge by a small investment, businesses can take over and complete the port and have a stake in its development.

Wes Holden