TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Major investment is on its way to Toledo's port system, dollars that could position our community to be a big player not only in the U.S. but all the way to Europe.
Jobs, economic development and major advances in energy are some things people don't always think about when they look to the Maumee River and beyond, but it's coming and Friday was a big step in making it happen.
"The last time our nation's ports saw major investment was during the war years," Mark Buzby, of the US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, said.
That's about to change. The $16 million check from the Maritime Administration will be part of a $75 million investment in things like upgrading the dockwalls and constructing a liquid transloading system.
"It's really important that we upgrade those facilities to not only stay up with but stay ahead of our ability to move cargo that goes in and out of this country," said Buzby.
"This seaway and all the multi-model we've been connecting over the years, land, sea, and rail could be extremely important in helping us connect in a new way to Europe," said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.
Kaptur hopes that could mean maybe natural gas headed to Europe one day after it leaves southern Ohio, but for now these dollars are part of a larger 10-year plan for Toledo's port to connect our products throughout the Great Lakes.
"We're going to do it diligently. We're going to do it correctly, and we're going to work with our partners to make sure it comes to fruition in the right way," said Thomas Winston, CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
"This isn't done alone. It isn't done in one generation. This is an intergenerational task," said Kaptur.
This all coming with one of the port's other major projects, the Cleveland Cliffs project. It's the giant tower going up in East Toledo, where crews will eventually create ire ore pellets that will then become steel. That facility is expected to open later in 2020.