Ahoy! Cargo traffic up at state’s ports

The state’s logistics hubs are pretty far detached from central Indiana, but may be somewhat telling of the state’s overall economy.

Indiana’s three ports—in Burns Harbor, Jeffersonville and Mount Vernon—handled an 8-percent increase in maritime shipments from 2009 to 2011, according to Ports of Indiana.

otr-port070212-15col.jpg Indiana’s three ports—including the one at Mount Vernon, seen here—handle cargo for everything from alternative fuels to electric power generation to steelmaking. (AP photo)

The ports handle cargo for everything from alternative fuels to electric power generation to steelmaking.

The uptick in shipments was recorded as part of a study by Martin Associates, one of the nation’s top maritime economic consulting firms.

The study revolved around economic impacts the ports generate. It found business activities at the ports contributed $6.4 billion to the state economy last year and supported 51,577 jobs.

That’s an 18-percent increase in both categories since 2009.

Showing the biggest jump in traffic was Burns Harbor, upstate, with ship tonnage up 56 percent and barge tonnage growing 75 percent.

Too bad Indianapolis missed out on the maritime port potential.

In 1831, a steamboat attempted to haul stone up the White River for construction of the National Road. Hopes that the shallow river could be navigable by anything other than rafts and flatboats were dashed when the steamboat ran aground and was stuck for a week.

The last time a big ship traversed the height-challenged river was in 1865, but that steamboat “sank” in 1866 and was scuttled, according to “Encyclopedia of Indianapolis.”

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