Push to improve Hickman, Mississippi Riverport

Local leaders with the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, or MRCTI, are back from their Washington, D.C. trip. The group made arguments to lawmakers with the mission to help improve our region.

Hickman, Kentucky, has a population of 2,500, but those in local government say its Riverport on the Mississippi can impact up to 100 million jobs nationwide, and they say now is the time to pay attention to the Mississippi river cities.

Greg Curlin says he’s seen the river swell and recede all his life, and now, as the Executive Director of the Hickman/ Fulton Riverport, he says the port has seen growth. 

“I know that usage of the river has started to pick up, focusing on making sure we keep it open and keep the ramps as we call them open,” Curlin says.

But he says the task is now to keep up with and maintain the port, and not to fall behind that growth –or deal with the consequences. “A lot of business are out here,” he said, “If we don’t keep this harbor open, they won’t want to come.”

Hickman Mayor David Lattus says he brought these concerns to lawmakers. “It’s bigger than Hickman. It’s the whole river from Minnesota to New Orleans,” he says. He argued the Hickman port was as essential to river traffic as large ports. 

“It’s important that we keep the infrastructure and flood protection up so we can keep the commodities going up and down the river,” Lattus says. 

Because if they close, they say  there’s no way to get products in and out. And industry will float by, but leaders say it’s important to keep those jobs, commerce, and agriculture on the river. 

“We’re going to fight ’til the bitter end to make sure we keep this harbor open and keep the things going for this community in this area,” Curlin says.

City and port leaders say they work closely with the Army Corps of Engineers as well. The Mississippi River will be partially dredged at the Hickman port, and will cost a total of $625,000.

The water levels on the river are still high, which is hindering barge traffic from Hickman.

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