All 200 miles of commercially navigable waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania are in the Port District, which includes the three major rivers in southwestern PA: the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio. This waterway is made navigable by a system of seventeen locks and dams. The Port of Pittsburgh supports over 200 river terminals and barge industry service suppliers, including privately owned public river terminals.

The Port complex is served by the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads and by four interstate highways. The Port of Pittsburgh Commission acts as a comprehensive service for shippers and industries seeking information on the river system.

According to 2020 data from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh is the fifth busiest inland port in the nation and the 39th busiest port of any kind in the nation handling 15.5 million tons of cargo in 2020. It is also larger in tonnage than Philadelphia, Boston, and Oakland, and each lock on the Monongahela and the Ohio rivers handles approximately 9,000 barges per year.

Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality

CMAQ funding has facilitated the upgrading of towboats in the Port District with cleaner burning diesel engines, and recent research and studies have been undertaken to explore the viability of using Liquid Natural Gas fuel for towboats.

Waterway Transportation

Inland waterway transportation is generally the least costly transportation mode. Average cost ranges between $0.005 and $0.01 per ton mile of cargo moved. This compares to nearly $0.05 for rails and $0.10 for trucks. These savings offer companies located in or choosing to locate in the Port of Pittsburgh District a substantial transportation advantage in sourcing raw materials or marketing finished products.

Federal Marine Highway Corridor

Pittsburgh has been named the start of the Federal Marine Highway, extending from Kansas City connecting with the Mississippi River and the IntraCoastal Waterway. 

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