Port of Milwaukee plans improvements for 2010

Port fared far better than its peers on Great Lakes in 2009, sees growth for 2010

While many of the ports in the Great Lakes saw their traffic volumes fall between 15 to 30 percent last year during the recession, the Port of Milwaukee’s volumes were only down 0.7 percent, according to Eric Reinelt, port director.

The port shipped and received 2.91 million metric tons during 2009, compared with its 2.93 million during 2008.

“I was in meetings in Toronto (two weeks ago) with other port directors from the Great Lakes, and they were much lower in tonnage,” Reinelt said. “Years ago, the port had a policy of diversifying its tonnage base and broadening out into additional tonnage from things like steel and manufactured goods. We’ve moved into a lot of bulk commodities – our road salt business has doubled in the last 10 to 15 years. What has really pulled out through was the increase in road salt and Wisconsin’s exported grain.”

The Port of Milwaukee’s tonnage should in increase in 2010 because of the increase in manufacturing activity – which should result in more shipments of steel coming in and higher amounts of finished goods being shipped out, Reinelt said.

“With the dollar still low compared to other world currencies, I think exports (from Wisconsin) will improve,” he said.

Several new wind power projects have recently been approved in Wisconsin, and most of those projects will use parts and components that will be imported from Europe. The Port of Milwaukee is planning to improve one of its on-ramps to Interstate 794 north this summer, in order to accommodate oversized trucks, Reinelt said.

“We will be spending about $500,000 to improve our entrance ramp to the Hoan (Bridge), which will allow us to move trucks onto the highway without going onto city streets,” he said. “We will see that business (wind power products) returning – a lot of projects are getting financed.”


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