The Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority dedicated its newest piece of equipment â “ the largest flat-top crane in North America â “ in brief ceremonies Friday.
"This represents the largest single investment the riverport has ever made," Ken Canter, the authority's executive director, told assembled vendors, local officials and friends. "It (the decision) was not made lightly."
The riverport's investment is approximately $4.5 million, Canter said. The crane has a lift capacity of 53 tons away from the tower, more than double that of the previous crane. The hook height is 75 feet, and the crane is 115 feet tall. The boom length measures 313 feet.
The new crane is expected to have a huge impact on the riverport and the area, according to local officials.
Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler praised the riverport authority's "vision and commitment" in preparing for expanded business opportunities.
Doug Harnice, McCracken County's deputy judge-executive, called the riverport "the best kept secret in the state of Kentucky." The increased riverport activity will also attract jobs to the area, he said.
According to Canter, the riverport will be able to handle larger cargo arriving on barges expected with the planned expansion of the Panama Canal. Larger ships carrying container cargo from overseas may travel more often through the larger canal, bypassing West Coast ports where they so frequently stop now. Those ships could travel on to the Gulf of Mexico and more East Coast ports, bringing more product and materials on the inland waterways.
The riverport handles approximately 900,000 tons of cargo a year, which translates to about 400 barges, Canter said.
The riverport's new equipment has been featured in several industry publications, which Canter feels will also help attract customers.
Canter's face lights up when he talks about the possibilities for growth at the riverport. He even has a new slogan: "Barge on in and let us take a bigger load off."
Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun Staff Writer, at 270-575-8676.