The state transportation department is much more than roads and bridges. The department also oversees programs for aviation, railroads, freight development, waterways, and transit.  The new head of the Multimodal Division of the department is Michelle Teel.   Her problem is that the department has little money for all of the programs she overseas.  

The financial pinch comes at a time when Missouri’s ports face a major growth future.. She thinks a doubling of the size of the Panama Canal, underway now, could mean more barge traffic on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and more opportunity for the freight industry.

Cities along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers have, or might develop, some of the closest inland ports to the canal.  That’s something Teel says gives Missouri, with its central location, an opportunity to capitalize on port development and freight distribution.  

And the benefits could be coming fairly soon.  Operators of the present canal think it will reach its sustainable capacity by next year and the new canal should be operating in 20-14.

Listen to interview with Michelle Teel 7:22 mp3