Frontier Group reopens river mooring cells in Weirton
WEIRTON — Barges have returned to dormant mooring cells along the Ohio River in Weirton as part of revitalization efforts by the Frontier Group of Companies.
The mooring cells are part of former steel-making property, previously owned by ArcelorMittal. The property was purchased by the Frontier Group in 2016.
For the first time in more than 20 years, barges began transporting sand, gravel, and steel products and other materials to and from the mooring cells at Weirton Frontier Crossings, according to David Franjoine, the company’s chief executive officer.
“While we wrap up the remediation, deconstruction, and repurposing of one of the largest economic engines in the Ohio River Valley, our team has been designing and preparing industry-ready sites for a 500-acre industrial park and inland river port that can accommodate 3.5 million square feet of new industrial and commercial business for a projected $2 billion of private investment,” said Franjoine.
The City of Weirton and the Frontier Group have collaborated with the West Virginia Division of Highways and the state Department of Economic Development to build new on-site roads and bridges at Weirton Frontier Crossings.
The infrastructure improvements will assist in the creation of an estimated 3,000 jobs, according to a study from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which was managed by the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and partially funded by the City of Weirton.
Frontier has signed an agreement with Industry Terminal & Salvage to operate their river port.
According to Brad Busatto, president of Industry Terminal & Salvage, and the stevedore for Weirton Frontier Crossings, the largest source of inbound traffic to Weirton will be markets up and down the Ohio River.
“When fully operated, our port will have the capacity to fleet over 75 barges and load and unload two barges at a time,” according to Bussato. “The first tow of barges will be hauling a variety of products that support consumers, industrial needs, and infrastructure.”
Pat Ford, business development director for Frontier, said the American Chemistry Council predicts there will be as much as $36 billion in downstream petrochemical and manufacturing investment in the region.
“This investment will create more than 100,000 jobs,” Ford said. “But these jobs will need the production sites that Weirton’s Frontier Crossings is poised to provide.”
The port gives Weirton Frontier Crossings direct access to export markets and provides a third option for transporting materials, beyond the current rail and roads on-site, and feeding the regional, national, and global transportation network, according to company officials.
Local and state development officials also are in talks with other businesses and industries in the region and around the globe interested in Weirton.