PortKC wins DOT grant to develop old AK Steel site

The Kansas City Port Authority (Port KC)’s Missouri River Terminal project was awarded a $9.88 million Port Infrastructure Development Grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday, Oct. 9.

The grant will be used to provide regional access to the marine river network, rail, and highway transportation network, according to the DOT. This project includes advanced project planning and redevelopment activities of the Missouri River Terminal site such as preventative flooding maintenance, environmental remediation efforts, site design, land acquisition, and limited pavement and rail access development.

“This grant is a real signal that Port KC’s commitment and vision to reclaim and revitalize the Blue River Industrial Corridor is important,” Port KC Board Chair Phil Glynn said. “We now can move forward with building the critical infrastructure needed to develop a freight and transportation hub. The Missouri River Terminal will catalyze quality job growth and truly transform Kansas City for many generations to come.”

The project was developed from a freight study commissioned in 2015 by Port KC and the Economic Development Agency, which showed that the projected growth of the freight market in the Kansas City region would double by 2040.

Port KC purchased the 415-acre former AK Steel Corporation site along the Missouri River east of I-435 in Jackson and Clay Counties in 2018 for future development.

“AK Steel Corporation had previously used the site as a landfill for its steel manufacturing and finished product transportation and distribution hub,” according to a press release from Port KC in 2018. “The land will require some environmental remediation. Port KC is well versed with environmental cleanup and mitigation having already successfully taken on similar projects at Berkley Riverfront and Richards-Gebaur Commerce Park.”

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, applauded the DOT’s announcement.

“Kansas City’s central location is one of its greatest competitive advantages,” Blunt said. “The Missouri River Terminal project capitalizes on the city’s position as a hub for the nation’s railways, highways, and waterways to support continued growth in the region. This critical grant funding will also help leverage additional private-sector investment that will fuel economic development and job creation. I appreciate Secretary Chao’s support for this grant and look forward to continuing to work with Port KC and [Missouri] Governor [Mike] Parson to move the project forward.”

Blunt sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao earlier this year urging funding for the project.

In April 2020, Port KC’s Board of Commissioners approved the adoption of a fast-tracking policy that enhances Port KC’s unique position to attract quality ecommerce and manufacturing jobs to Kansas City, Mo. The policy is applicable to projects that will be located in Kansas City’s distressed census tracts, which includes Northeast Kansas City, pay quality wages and offer additional community benefits.

“The entire global ecommerce and logistics chain is evolving rapidly,” said Jon Stephens, Port KC President and CEO. “As these businesses consider quick expansion to accommodate the needs of today, and tomorrow, it is vital they know we want these quality jobs in KC. It’s also important they know we want projects to hire citizens seeking quality employment and competitive salaries.”

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