Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway continues to be a vital part the region’s economy

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway has been a boon for industry in this area for years.

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – This is the route on the water that provides a cost-effective path for goods to travel. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway has been a boon for industry in this area for years.

“You know one barge will hold what 70 semi trucks will hold, and each tow can push eight barges up and down the waterway,” said Operations Project Manager Justin Murphree.” “So there is a lot of cost savings of economics when traveling those products.”

Over 50 years ago, the federal government invested billions of dollars to build part of the Waterway, and it has paid off in many ways.

Mitch Mays, administrator of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Authority, knows firsthand how this investment opened some lucrative opportunities in the Golden Triangle.

“In fact, we just saw an example of that with Steal Dynamics here in Columbus, Mississippi,” Mays said. “They bring scrap steal in through the port of Mobile, and they offload it here in Columbus, and it is used to make steel and coals that they sell to customers all over the southeast.”

Not only does Steal Dynamics transform scraps, but it also helps our local economy by providing on and off-site jobs.

“We currently employ 900 people, and that is just direct employees of Steel Dynamics surrounding contractors like the people unloading the barges for us at the port and off the Tenn-Tom. We roughly probably have over 100 to 200 contractors, ” said Steel Dynamics General Manager Dan Keown.

Jason Colburn is the Port General Manager for Logistic Services. He says the Waterway has allowed him to work his way up the ranks – even without a college degree.

“I think this is a great outlet and a great industry to get involved with and a part of as the England Division and Brownwater Port expand and grow,” Colburn said. “There are a lot of opportunities for those who choose not to go to college and want to get their hands dirty and work right out of high school.”

With the Mississippi River water level low, some industries have to shift to utilizing the Tennessee Tombigbee more. State Senator Daniel Sparks believes that the waterway will attract even more business and money to Mississippi.

“I think that it gives us an opportunity to draw people to the district not only just for business opportunities but also for recreational opportunities,” Sparks said.

The Tenn-Tom has 17 public ports and terminals transporting bulk raw products like petroleum, soy, sand, gravel, wood, scrap metal, and more.

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