Business look for state help when Mississippi lock closes in June

Economic fallout of Lock and Dam closure

MINNEAPOLIS – An effort to keep invasive carp from traveling through Minnesota waters, may also keep businesses from doing the same thing.

Next month, the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam will close after Congress passed a law last year in hopes of stopping the spread of invasive carp from infecting the northern waterways.

"If we're going to do a public good, it shouldn't be borne by two individual companies," said Jack Perry, who represents two companies that use the lock to transport their product.

Perry's clients, Northern Metal Recycling and Aggregate Industries, sit along the Mississippi River in northeast Minneapolis. One transports metal, the other sand. His clients' entire business depends on transporting their product through that lock system, he said.

"They will have to completely revolutionize how they move their product," he said.

And that costs money. Instead of using a barge, they'll use a truck, lots of them. One barge equals about 70 trucks, he said.

"Over a course of a year, that's anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 more trucks on 94 going from here to St. Paul than there otherwise would be," he said.

Perry claimed it will cost them an extra four to five million dollars a year if the companies stay where they are, instead of relocating at least some of their operations.

They may move some of their operations near a rail line which will cut down on the amount of additional truck traffic on the highways, said Perry.

"It's not their fault it's going to be closed and some of us think they should be compensated," said DFL Senator James Metzen, of South St. Paul.

Metzen is pushing a bill that would help compensate the companies, possibly up to $40 million. That money would help the two businesses transition away from the river.

"They didn't ask this to happen. And they're hurting. They will be hurting," he said.

It is unclear where the money would come from, but it appears both political parties are open to the funding, according to Perry.

In the federal bill passed last year, the Minnesota congressional delegation said it supported any state and local efforts to mitigate the economic impacts.


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