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Kentucky Riverports, Highway and Rail Freight Study

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The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is preparing an economic development plan to leverage the Ohio River corridor as well as other freight and rail assets to promote growth and retention of businesses throughout the Commonwealth. Through this study, KYTC will develop an understanding of both strengths and weaknesses of the current freight network, recommend improvements to create efficiencies and strengthen the system, and demonstrate the ability to connect with critical markets and supply chain sectors domestically and abroad.

To begin this process, the cabinet is conducting a study to assess:

  1. Kentucky planning and port leadership’s current understanding of its market conditions
  2. A review of models and market data to forecast and understand the impact of potential changes
  3. Engagement of the Kentucky business and economic development community to understand needs and potential impact of improvements
  4. A pragmatic, defensible strategy for investing in and leveraging freight transportation infrastructure for the long-term

A final report documenting all methods, findings, and recommendations of the study will be available on this website once complete.


From a riverport perspective, the study will include the 11 public ports across Kentucky (four of which are in development as noted by the orange font below). These riverports provide access to 1,100 navigable inland waterway miles and connections to the Great Lakes, Canada, and Mexico. In addition, the study will take into account the rail and truck freight networks across the state, as well as warehousing capacity.

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The intention of the Riverports, Highway & Rail Freight study is to better understand the breadth and depth of Kentucky’s multi-modal freight infrastructure, recommend a priority list of improvements based on potential return, identify potential partnerships and funding sources, and to better communicate overall strengths with businesses who have a need for these services. One of the final outcomes is a marketing toolkit for economic development leaders, riverport managers, local governments, and others to use to promote the network for both foreign and domestic commerce.


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Tasks to be completed as part of this study include:

  • Task 1 - August 2020 – December 2020
    Researching and understanding the existing role of riverports and freight in the Kentucky economy
    • First Kentucky Summit on the Economic Role of Freight Modes, held November 16 - 18, 2020 - Summit Recordings
  • Task 2 - October 2020 – February 2021
    Forecast modeling based on market indicators, trade models, travel demand models and other economic data
    • Technical Memorandum #2 - Coming Soon
  • Task 3 - January 2021 – March 2021
    Engaging port city and statewide stakeholders regarding economic drivers for the utilization of the freight infrastructure


      • Technical Memorandum #3 - Coming Soon
      • Second Kentucky Summit on Economic Development Strategies to Leverage Kentucky Riverports and Freight Network, held March 24 - 26, 2021 - Summit Recordings
        • Task 4 - April 2021
          Defining freight policy and investment scenarios and identifying partnerships necessary to realize the full network's potential
        • Task 5 - May 2021 – July 2021
          Analyzing possible policy and investment scenario impacts and identifying a preferred scenario
        • Task 6 - August 2021
          Stakeholder engagement around the study findings and preferred investment strategy, as well as the creation of a marketing toolkit and other educational and promotional resources for targeted industry sectors


        Please see Task 1 section above for materials from the first Kentucky Summit on the Economic Role of Freight Modes, held Nov. 16 - 18, 2020.

        Please see Task 3 section above for materials from the second Kentucky Summit on Economic Development Strategies to Leverage Kentucky Riverports and Freight Network, held March 24 - 26, 2021.

        Please see Task 6 section above for materials from the third Kentucky Summit on Statewide Strategy for Riverport Investment, held Aug. 31 - Sept. 2, 2021.

        Have a Comment or Question? Want to stay informed?

        If you would like more information about this project, feel you would benefit from being part of the stakeholder engagement, or would like to be added to our email list for future communications, please contact the deputy project manager:

        Noel P. Comeaux, AICP, PMP

        Mobile: 703-926-4618


        Kentucky Study Analyzes State’s Public Riverports, Waterways Journal – January 20, 2020

        Kentucky Association of Riverports

        200 Mero StreetFrankfortKY40622KY8:00am-4:30pm EST, M-F(502)564-7183(502)564-2865,+Frankfort,+Franklin,+Kentucky+40601&gl=us&sqi=2&z=16&iwloc=A

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