Port study underway

Published 10:57 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

In an effort to find and maximize the potential in the proposed Demopolis Intermodal Complex, the Marengo County Economic Development Authority has contracted with W.R. Coles and Associates, a Nashville-based firm with expertise in the area.

W.R. Coles and Associates (WRCA) provides professional services for clients in the planning, design, and construction of inland river port, multimodal freight transportation, and economic development projects.

“We expect this process for Demopolis to take up to about three months,” the firm’s founder Ron Coles said. “It can take much longer, but we’re pushing to get this turned around a little faster.”

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The firm has completed more than 140 port projects in 24 states since 1990 and by the end of the Demopolis process, Coles said his firm would deliver an executive summary and action plan for development and operation of the intermodal complex.

“We will have looked at economic basis of the area, like goods are already moving in and out – by rail, by highway, by truck, by water – and how those goods are moving today,” he said.

Coles said they would also look at modes of transportation not currently utilized by business and industrial traffic in the area and see if there is an opportunity to change some transportation habits.

“With something like a port, it completely opens up your transportation options,” Coles said. “You may find that there are a lot of businesses, right now, that use the highway that would immediately embrace the port. They’re simply using the highway now because they always have and may not have economical access to the water.”

Even though Coles and his firm have barely scratched the surface on the Demopolis project, he said the potential for the area was noticeable.

“Just by looking at the geographical locations of steel operations in Columbus (Miss.) and Mobile, those kinds of steel items could be produced in Demopolis,” he said. “There’s no doubt.”