Highways aren’t just about a daily commute or a road trip to the lake. Highways are transportation corridors that link people with products and link businesses with the entire country. Even water corridors, like the Missouri River, can get highway designation. Being labeled a highway is a cause to celebrate. It means that its recognition as such an important corridor would warrant maintaining and funding by the government as it is increasingly used.
Citizens in St. Joseph, Missouri, have cause for this celebration as the Missouri Department of Transportation and Port Authority of Kansas City recently announced that the Missouri River will be designated as M-29. The Kansas City Business Journal reported that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx deemed the part of the river that follows Interstate 29 from Kansas City to Sioux City, Iowa, an “M-29 Connector.”
In 2009, the Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway Program began and it has since designated 21 marine highways across the country, including the M-70 stretch of the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Louis. The program has supported these highways with over $130 million in funds. With the designation will come more freight movement along the waterways as federal funds help to support businesses.
As the river becomes more commercially active, Interstate 29 will become less congested for commuters and family travelers to and from St. Joseph, Missouri. President and CEO of the Port Authority, Michael Collins, sees a transition from huge amounts of freight traffic on highways to a better balance by using the marine highways. A highway along the water, parallel to major interstates, multiplies commerce and transportation benefits for all the citizens that live in that greater region. The benefits spill out beyond the region to suppliers and those in demand who may be able to get their product moved more smoothly through the supply chain.
Residents of St. Joseph, Missouri, know the value of their river for beauty, wildlife, recreation, transportation, and as their drinking water source. With a new federal marine highway designation the Missouri River will bring even more prosperity to the region.
The new marine highway designation will further fuel commerce into and out of St. Joseph. The Kansas City Business Journal reported that M-29 could spur the transportation of 500,000 more tons of cargo each year throughout the region. If that happens, the Missouri Department of Transportation and Port Authority of Kansas City project that the public will benefit by over $22 million over a seven-year period.
As long as rivers flow, St. Joseph, Missouri, will have the longest river in the country by its side. It has been a source of nourishment, recreation, and beauty for the city’s residents. Joseph Robidoux founded St. Joseph by his trading post on the banks of the river. The river was his business highway. Now the river’s importance as marine highway M-29 has come full circle in St. Joseph, Missouri.