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Whitmer tours Monroe Port as it prepares for expansion

Governor Whitmer at the Port of Monroe
Colin Jackson
Governor Whitmer at the Port of Monroe

Michigan’s Port of Monroe on Lake Erie is planning to build the state’s first shipping container terminal.

Officials say that will expand the possibilities for what goods the port can ship.

It currently handles products like mined materials and wind turbine towers.

“The 40-foot shipping container is the most commonly used form of freight movement in the entire world, and now Michigan will be in that business, and it will ensure that goods can travel to and from our region as expeditiously as possible and as economically as possible,” Port Director Paul LaMarre III said to reporters.

LaMarre also referenced out-of-state ports, railways, and trucking networks. He said the port expansion may not bring in the same scale of traffic larger East Coast shipping yards do. But he said that’s all right.

“It’s about value of the cargo. It’s about serving our regional manufacturing industry in a way that saves them money and allows them to be more productive. So, we won’t be moving record numbers of containers, but we will be moving value containers,” LaMarre said.

When discussing the possibilities, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said expanding the port will give other industries like car companies access to international shipping lanes close to home. While she talked, a thousand-foot freighter, the James R. Barker, stood behind her.

“One of these freighters takes 700 train cars off the tracks. I’m not suggesting that it totally replaces, but it just gives you an understanding of the enormity of what we can do when we build out this port,” Whitmer said.

The port received a $5 million grant from the state in the current budget.

It’s also getting $11 million from the federal Port Infrastructure Development Program.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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