County part of new inland port district
LISBON — The largest statistical inland port district in the U.S. has been approved by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and Columbiana is one of the 16 counties that is included.
For the last five years, the Columbiana County Port Authority has been a part of a collaborative effort to create the Mid-Ohio Valley Port District according to executive director Penny Traina. The purpose of the district is to create a new boundary for a statistical area that will be used for aggregation and reporting of waterborne commerce statistics. Traina said that the approval of the district allows it to be added to the Army Corps waterborne statistics database which will ensure accurate collecting and reporting of commerce along that corridor of the Ohio river. The district includes 216.8 miles of the Ohio River between mile marker 40 and 256.8 and consists of seven counties in Ohio and nine counties in West Virginia.
The Ohio Department of Transportation and West Virginia Department of Transportation, along with local port authorities such as the CCPA, other local government officials and private sector representatives, joined together to submit the request to the USACE. The USACE reported that ODOT and WVDOT received 57 written endorsements from local governments, congressional interests, representatives of Ohio and West Virginia and other interested parties. Dr. Jack Marchbanks, director of ODOT, sent the initial request to the Huntington District of the USACE in West Virginia, citing a statistical gap as the reasoning behind the idea. There is no existing district between the Huntington Tri-State Port District and the Pittsburgh Port District, leaving out nearly 220 miles of the Ohio River. He also wrote that the designation of the district will elevate awareness of the importance of the region and further support the attraction of economic development and use of the Ohio River system for efficient and cost-effective waterborne transportation.
Marchbanks noted that the designation does not give either state any control over the river and the designation is solely for statistical purposes and that both ODOT and WVDOT understand that the district will not impact the jurisdictions or powers of any existing or future public port or economic development authority.