Company seeks more barges at Carrollton River Terminal facility

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By Jeff Moore

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comments on proposed changes to a permit for the Carrollton River Terminal, located .7 miles south of the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio rivers.

The terminal, a storage facility for liquid asphalt, seeks to increase barge unloadings from three per year to six, and allow them to unload any day. Currently, the terminal can only receive barges Monday through Friday. The permit change notice states that barges would not unload during events that take place on the Kentucky River or on summer holidays.

The permit change also would allow two barges, instead of just one, at the terminal at the same time.

One additional change the terminal operator seeks to its permit is a revised plan for planting trees along the berm of the facility along the river.

According to a public notice issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District, public comments will be accepted on the proposed permit changes from Dec. 7 to Jan. 6.

Louisville Paving Co. President William Dougherty said his company is seeking “very minor” changes for its Carrollton River Terminal.

In an interview Thursday, Dougherty said three unloadings a year are not enough for the facility, which has the capacity to handle five or six barges a year.

“They won’t be in there all the time,” he said. Dougherty explained that a barge is at the terminal for about 10 hours when it unloads. He said barges are there for such a short time that the tow stays with them through the entire process.

With this permit change, Dougherty said he seeks to correct one error made in the process of receiving the original permit issued in 2009. He said it was a mistake that they asked for only one barge to be at the terminal at a time. The revised permit would allow two to be there and the facility was built to handle this.

The permit change notification states that the new permit would allow barges to dock anytime Monday through Sunday. The permit they now work under limits this to weekdays only.

“We have no control when they bring barges down,” Dougherty said. He noted that they often get hung up at Markland Dam, delaying their arrival.

The restrictions in the current permit create problems for barge companies, he noted, because they often have to undergo crew changes if they can’t dock when they arrive during a weekend.

Dougherty said the terminal will not interfere with any of the special events that take place on the Kentucky River. He said they would not bring barges to the facility during events, such as fishing tournaments or during summer holidays.

The Corps of Engineers also will review the request for altering the tree planting scheme on the berm of the storage facility.

The current permit calls for two rows of trees six feet part with 11-foot centers. The revised permit seeks to make that two staggered rows three feet apart with 16-foot centers.

“Due to the size of the finished berm, this revised planning scheme would promote a more successful survival rate for the planted trees,” the public notice document states.

Dougherty explained there is not enough room to plant the trees on the berm as outlined in the current permit because they would be too close to grow.

“They are all kind of minor changes,” he said.

The Corps of Engineers outlined in the public notice the topics it would consider in its decision on the revised permit.

“The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact of the proposed activity on the public interest,” according to the Corps of Engineers public notice. “The decision will reflect the national concern for both the protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.”

The document states that all relevant factors will be considered in making the decision on the permit, including conservation, economics, aesthetic values, general environmental concerns, historic values, fish and wildlife values, flood damage prevention, land use, navigation, recreation, water supply, water quality, energy needs, safety, food production and in the general, the needs and welfare of the public.

Carrollton Mayor Gene McMurry said he doesn’t believe the permit change will have any impact on Point Park, the Park-to-Park Trails plans or the new Two Rivers RV Park the city is constructing on the banks of the Kentucky River.

“I don’t see it would create any problem for us,” McMurry said. He said he wouldn’t want to do anything that could hamper positive economic development for the area.

Additionally, he said the barges could provide those staying at the RV park with something to look at as they come up the river.

However, Councilman Adam Raker voiced concerns about the plan at Monday night’s city council meeting.

In a Tuesday interview, Raker said he wants to ensure people on both sides of the Kentucky River are aware of what is being proposed. He noted there was a lot of opposition to the original permit, but said that did not account for much in the Corps of Engineers decision to grant one for the terminal.

Raker said he has concerns about the proposal to increase off-loading at the facility from Monday through Friday to seven days a week. With the construction of the RV park, he wants to know if off-loading could produce smells being that the city is trying to draw campers there.

Off-loading on weekends may be a “deterrent for what we’re trying to build,” he said.

He also wants to ensure any expansion with docking two barges is further up-stream and doesn’t bring the activity closer to the RV park.

Raker also wants to know the long-term intentions of the company and whether they are going to come back seeking more and more traffic in future years.

This is something the operator can clarify for local residents, he said. Raker plans to send these issues to the Corps of Engineers and plans on attending the public hearing on the permit.

But he said there are many other issues that the operator needs to address with the community.

Raker said he has received complaints that residents smell odors from the facility. However, there is no information on what makes up the odor, what is permitted to be discharged and how much is being released in the air.

On Friday, Carroll County Judge Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said he had not had the chance to review the notice on the permit revision.

He said he would look to see if it could have any impact on the funding the county would be receiving for work involved with the Park-to-Park Trails project.

Dougherty said the permit changes will not have any impact on activities that may come to the Kentucky River in the future, just as canoeing between the lock and Point Park. The Park-to-Park Trails plan calls for a “blueway” for canoes between Lock No. 1 and Point Park.

He said barges at the terminal will be very close to the bank, allowing “plenty of room beyond them” for other activities on the river.

Dougherty said the Kentucky River is deep like a bathtub, even near its banks, making it so the barges can move close to shore.

When the barges leave, he explained, they back out from the terminal to the Ohio River, not turning on the Kentucky River. This means the river is not blocked by their presence, he said.

The complete notice and drawings on the Carrollton River Terminal are available on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Louisville Division website at www.lrl.usace.army.mil/orf/listnotices.asp. All comments on the proposal should be addressed to Pam Loeffler, U.S. Corps of Engineers Louisville District, P.O. Box 59, Louisville, Ky 40201.