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Port of Kansas City terminal is reopening to barge traffic

The port of Kansas City’s barge-shipping terminal, which has been closed since 2007, is reopening in the West Bottoms near the confluence of the Missouri and Kaw rivers.

The Port Authority of Kansas City said Tuesday it is partnering with Kaw Valley Companies of Kansas City, Kan., to operate the Woodswether Terminal at 1724 Market St.

The goal is for barge traffic to begin using the terminal before the end of this year’s shipping season in early December, said Marissa Cleaver Wamble, a Port Authority vice president.

The terminal, which dates back to the 1860s, is owned by the city. It is located on 6 acres and includes several storage buildings, a crane and other equipment, Wamble said. It has storage capacity for about 750,000 tons.

The facility closed seven years ago partly because water levels were dropping on the Missouri River, which reduced barge traffic, she said.

The Port Authority has been working to reopen the facility since 2011, Wamble said. It signed a lease with the city to operate the port in 2012 and has been working since then to find an operating partner and to prepare the site for reopening.

Wamble said about $6 million is needed to upgrade the rail access to the port, and the authority has been talking to the Union Pacific railroad. The authority has applied for several grants to help pay for the rail extension.

Kaw Valley was founded in 1984 by Ben Kates as a sand and gravel mining and distribution company. It has diversified over the years into recycling, demolition, excavation, grading and now port operations. The company said it plans to use the terminal facility for its own business, but it will be open to others moving freight.

“In partnership with the Port Authority … we will be able to reach and grow a larger network of shippers, receivers, manufacturers, distributors and agricultural suppliers presently served by only rail and road carriers,” said Dan Hays, the company’s director of sales and manager of its sand and gravel division.

Hays said there initially will be five to seven employees at the facility.

River Marine Enterprises will provide towing, fleeting and port services for inbound and outbound barge traffic, the Port Authority said.

To reach Steve Rosen, call 816-234-4879 or send email to srosen@kcstar.com.

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