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$11 million awarded to improve the Port of Monroe as it works to become a hub for shipping

Port of Monroe
The Port of Monroe will make repairs and expand its abilities to become a cargo shipping alternative to trucks.

A Michigan port on Lake Erie is getting $11 million from the federal government to improve cargo handling.

The Port of Monroe has long handled coal shipments for the DTE-Monroe power plant. It also handles petroleum products and rock and aggregate. More recently it’s been shipping out steel for the neighboring Gerdau Special Steel plant and components for wind turbines from the manufacturing plant Ventower Industries which is also very close to the port.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will repair parts of the port and construct a wharf exclusively for wind energy cargo.

“Certainly being able to move a lot of the components that make up renewables is important. Obviously the wind towers are one thing, but there could be other opportunities around solar, that type of the thing,” said Tim Lake, the CEO of the Monroe County Business Development Corporation.

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Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The Gerdau steel plant is located right next to the Port of Monroe.

The port recently added a crawler crane to load steel bars onto a shipping freighter. Gerdau Special Steel was looking for a cheaper way than trucks to ship to Minnesota.

Shipping on the Great Lakes uses much less fuel per ton than other shipping methods.

The Port of Monroe office did not answer phone calls, but according to information on its website, port officials call the new improvements the Lake Erie Renewable Energy Resilience Project. It includes riverfront work, turning basin work and getting rid of overhead electric lines to pave the way for future improvements.

The Port of Monroe also would like to expand its capacity to handle shipping containers, one of the more common ways freight is moved on cargo ships.

Lake said the grant will move the port toward “a level of economic activity that actually helps not on just the Monroe/Monroe County region, but also southeast Michigan.”

The Port of Monroe credited U.S. Senator Gary Peters for shepherding the grant through the United States Maritime Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation. Peters is the Chair of the Commerce Subcommittee Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports.

The port says its goal is to make greater use of the infrastructure to increase economic activity for the region and strengthen supply chains.

Graham, Lester
Google maps
A satellite view of the Port of Monroe where the River Raisin meets Lake Erie.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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