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Coast Guard seeks comments on allowing river barges in eastern Lake Michigan | Business

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Coast Guard seeks comments on allowing river barges in eastern Lake Michigan
Business
Coast Guard seeks comments on allowing river barges in eastern Lake Michigan

MUSKEGON – The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has begun the formal process of collecting public comments on a proposal that would allow river barge traffic on the east side of Lake Michigan as far north as the Port of Muskegon. The proposal, which is being championed by the Michigan Agri-Business Association (MABA), has wide support from businesses, agriculture and local elected officials and is expected to bring more opportunities for economic development and growth to Michigan.

 

“Agriculture is one of Michigan’s largest and fastest growing sectors, and we depend on reliable transportation options,” said Jim Byrum president of MABA. “As agriculture continues to grow, options for moving commodities and inputs must expand to keep up. Allowing river barge access on Lake Michigan will give Michigan’s agriculture industry more access to efficient and cost-effective water transportation which will ultimately grow our industry, create jobs and boost Michigan’s economy.”

 

In addition to helping grow Michigan agriculture, expanded barge access would benefit industries across the state, including shipping, scrap and metal, aggregates and electric utilities.

 

Under current rules, the USCG can create “load-line exempted routes” where certain vessels, including barges, can operate for commercial purposes in various water bodies, including the Great Lakes. There is already a similar exemption in place for the western shore of Lake Michigan between Calumet and Milwaukee.

 

Public comments on the proposal will be accepted until August 25, 2014. You can learn more about the proposal and submit comments online by visiting Regulations.gov and searching for docket ID number USCG-2013-0954.



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