Aberdeen port work expected to spur NE Mississippi economy

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) — Community leaders in northeast Mississippi expect a recent infusion of funds from the federal government to spur economic development around the Port of Aberdeen.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced the $4 million in funding as part of an initiative to improve American ports, WCBI-TV reported.

“What we need and what we want is to have a more vibrant port that actually serves the area in all the other commodities that’re available,” Aberdeen Mayor Charles Scott said.

Officials plan to embark on the Port Rail Spur Connector Project later this year or early next year. It’s aimed at providing direct access between the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

“The work that we do down here on this dock will change our community for a generation,” Scott said.

The Department of Transportation awarded $241 million in grants to 19 states and one territory as part of the Port Infrastructure Development Program to improve the nation’s supply chain.

“A lot of people, when they think about supply chains, they’re picturing some of those big coastal ports in California,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “And of course, that’s very important but just as important are places like the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Those inland ports and what we call marine highways.”

The money will help pay for 12,200 feet (3,718 meters) of new rail spur in Aberdeen.

“This is about getting goods where they need to be and making sure we do it efficiently and on time,” Buttigieg said. “That’s why it’s important for us to be supporting places like the port there in Aberdeen.”

The goal is to begin the rail spur project by late 2022 or early 2023 after they finish the dock project in October, Scott said.

Scott also previously received a grant for dock upgrades at the port.

“The goal is to take care of the dock, make it usable and have the rail infrastructure that allows us to connect the railway in here too,” he said.