WASHINGTON, D.C. — Where the Ohio and Tennessee rivers meet at Paducah, there are big plans for riverfront and riverport improvements, and they come with a big price tag.
Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Wilson says winning federal grant money for the projects is not easy. The city of Paducah, in partnership with the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority, is applying for $15,311,500 in Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development funds.
"It's a very competitive process. We are fighting for our own part of the state," Wilson said.
The B.U.I.L.D. grant will be discussed with representatives from the Department of Transportation and lawmakers during the chamber's annual trip to Washington, D.C. Chamber leaders and a delegation of approximately 45 to 50 people from various backgrounds will meet face to face with key leaders to discuss a number of things, including the B.U.I.L.D. grant.
"You know, we want to build those relationships. We meet with our congressmen from all over Kentucky," Wilson said.
The B.U.I.L.D. grant application is comprised of two areas along the city's waterfront: the riverfront commons and the riverport container transfer yard. The riverfront commons improvement plan involves proposals for an excursion pier and plaza, transient dock landing, four intersection improvements and a multi-use pathway.
The riverport container transfer yard component focuses on the development of container-on-barge service in Paducah that involves moving containers on barges rather than by trucks or by rail.
"The B.U.I.L.D. grant would allow us to stack containers in (an) area behind a secure fence," Riverport Authority Executive Director Bill Miller said.
The Riverport improvements could be an incentive for companies to build in our region.
The Department of Transportation denied a similar B.U.I.L.D. grant proposal one year ago.
"They did a review of our application. We listened. We wrote everything down. We made all of those changes. So, it's very competitive. Ours is a little bit different than a lot of requests throughout the country, but we still feel very positive that we put our best foot forward," Wilson said.
The city of Paducah has committed $1.5 million or 9% of the total cost of the project. Of that, $1.25 million in non-federal funds would go to the riverfront commons and $250,000 in non-federal funds would go to the riverport container transfer yard.
An announcement on whether the city of Paducah received full funding, partial funding or no funding is expected by mid-November.