Illinois Waterway System Reopens to Traffic

November 20, 2020

Illinois Waterway System Reopens to Traffic

Nov 20, 2020

Key Issues:Transportation and Infrastructure

Author: Julie Busse

A major rehabilitation project on the Illinois River has been completed, allowing for the 12 million tons of food and ag commodities that leave the state to resume. This past summer, the Illinois River was shut down to go through necessary infrastructure upgrades with all of the newly completed work accompanied by a price tag totaling roughly $200 million.


This Week in Agribusiness recently featured the ongoing work from the Illinois Lock and Dam Project. Back in September, corn growers and NCGA staff toured four active construction sites along the Rock Island District including LaGrange, Peoria, Starved Rock, and Marseilles. The inland waterways system is essential to getting U.S. corn to the export market, with more than 60 percent of the grain produced in the U.S. being transported by barge.



Illinois corn grower Terry Smith told This Week in Agribusiness that waterways transportation isn’t just more efficient, it also makes the roads safer. “If you know some of the numbers from just Illinois, Illinois in 2018 had a little over 83 million ton of product move up and down the river. That took roughly 2.1 million semis off the highways of Illinois.” Smith is a member of the Market Development Action Team who jointly funded a video project with the Risk Management and Transportation Action Team to highlight the rehabilitation work that took place on the Illinois River.


“I think it’s fantastic that some of the video content we produced while in Illinois was picked up and featured in This Week in Agribusiness. The purpose behind our involvement in the project was to help showcase all of the tremendous work underway by the Army Corps of Engineers so, to have our message amplified and to put extra wind in the sails, really helps our mission,” says Michael Granché, NCGA Market Development Manager.


Last week, November 12th was the 17th annual Waterways Council Inc. (WCI) Symposium. The symposium took a virtual platform for the first time, where Army Corp of Engineers Chief of Engineers, LTG Scott Spellmon spoke to guests and highlighted the work that’s been completed on the inland waterway system this summer. Spellmon emphasized the importance of this work while addressing the need to further improve the infrastructure.