Steel, agriculture shipments up at Port of Milwaukee

But lack of salt shipments drives total volumes down

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:08 pm

Total volumes at the Port of Milwaukee are down year-to-date, but the port has seen increases in steel and agricultural shipments.

Port spokesman Jeff Fleming said volumes are down because of remaining salt supplies from last winter. While he did not have exact figures for total volumes, he said steel shipments were up in the double digits and agricultural product volumes had more than doubled compared to last year.

Milwaukee’s port volumes were down 11 percent in 2015 to just under 2.3 million metric tons. Port director Paul Vornholt said earlier this year he was expecting similar volumes in 2016.

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership released data Tuesday showing cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway were down 7.7 percent between March 21 and June 30. The dry bulk category was down nearly 8 percent, iron ore was down 18 percent and coal was down 17 percent.

The general cargo category was down 8 percent while steel was up 108 percent in for the seaway and other general cargo was up 131 percent.

Fleming noted port shipments are largely dependent on bulk commodities. He noted salt can have a large impact on volumes and the port is no longer handling coal after We Energies converted the Valley Power Plant to natural gas.

The port also recently completed a project to upgrade 9,500 feet of railroad track in the Lake Classification Yard. The $3 million project was funded by money from the port and grants from the state Department of Transportation. The project upgraded the tracks to the current industry standard of 115 lb rail. Fleming said the project will allow tenants at the port to move more cargo in an easier way.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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