The Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon has set a new mark for annual shipping totals in its 40-year history. Officials say the port handled more than 6.6 million tons of cargo last year, beating a record from the mid-1990s.
2015 totals were 36 percent higher than 2014 and 30 percent above the previous high mark in 1994. The increase was driven by coal, agricultural products, steel and other bulk commodities. Steel had a particularly big impact and nearly doubled tonnage from the previous shipping year. Salt shipments were up five times and ethanol, coal, dried distillers grain, cement and limestone all notched significant jumps.
Port Director Phil Wilzbacher says "this port is one of the busiest transportation hubs in this part of the country. To put this into perspective, if all of the barges, rail cars and trucks handled at the port were placed end-to-end, they would stretch 2,300 miles, which is approximately the straight-line distance between Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles."
In all, approximately 3,600 barges, 37,000 rail cars and 160,000 trucks made their way through the southwest Indiana operation.
The state port system has received increased attention recently. During his annual State of the State Address last week in Indianapolis Governor Mike Pence called for the exploration of a potential fourth port that would be located along the Ohio River in southeast Indiana.