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Tour Of Port Of Kansas City Shows Infrastructure Needs

Rusted and weedy rail tracks; boarded up red-brick buildings, with broken windows, from the 1930s; and run-down gray buildings from the '60s and '70s were part of the tour on Friday afternoon of the Port of Kansas City.

The port has essentially been closed since 2007 due to dwindling processing of freight, only about 600,000 tons a year. The city’s Port Authority is leading a charge to re-open it and revive the barge industry.

"We do have barge traffic that just passes by us throughout our shipping season," says president and CEO Michael Collins."We want that to stop here. But as you see, we also need the infrastructure."

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is co-sponsoring two pieces of legislation focused on infrastructure projects, such as building and repairing bridges, highways, schools, and ports.

During the tour of Kansas City’s Riverfront, with Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Port Authority staffers, Blunt says the bill called the Partnership to Build America Act would create a $50 billion fund to provide guarantees or low-cost loans for state and local governments, non-profits, or public-private partnerships.

"There’s no argument anywhere in the country that we have infrastructure needs," says Blunt. "The only argument is who’s going to pay to help meet those infrastructure needs."

Officials says it will cost about $11 million to ready the port to re-open.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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