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WEIRTON, WV — Barges returned this month to dormant mooring cells along the Ohio River in Weirton thanks to the revitalization efforts of the Frontier Group of Companies, which purchased the former Arcelor-Mittal USA property in 2016.

For the first time in over 20 years, barges began transporting sand, gravel, and steel products and a large array of other materials to and from the mooring cells at Weirton Frontier Crossings, according to David Franjoine, CEO of the Frontier Group of Companies (FGC).

“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 Fanjoine.

To capitalize on post-pandemic growth in the transportation and logistics, value-added metals, and oil and gas industry sectors, the City of Weirton and FGC have collaborated with the WVDOH and WV Department of Economic Development to build new on-site roads and bridges at Weirton Frontier Crossings. These critical improvements will pave the way for 3,000 jobs forecasted by a USEDA-funded study managed by the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (BDC) and partially funded by the City of Weirton.

According to Brad Busatto, President of Industry Terminal & Salvage (IT&S), 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 the Frontier Group of Companies, said the American Chemistry Council predicts that there will be as much as $36 billion in downstream petrochemical and manufacturing investment in our tri-state areas.

“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 new port at Weirton Frontier Crossings, one of the largest river ports in West Virginia and home to the largest rail yard in West Virginia, is essential in attracting West Virginia’s share of the projected petrochemical and manufacturing investment in the Ohio River Valley.

Port operations are multi-faceted and include terminal management activities, other port services, and transloading opportunities for truck and rail transportation. The Frontier Group of Companies has signed an agreement with Industry Terminal & Salvage to operate their river port.

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.

Local and state development officials also are in talks with other businesses and industries in the region and around the globe interested in Weirton.

The BDC cited the potential for more economic growth through the future development at the 500-acre site of the port. Already, companies are approaching the WV Department of Economic Development, City of Weirton, and FGC seeking industrial sites of between 40- and 500-acres of operational space, which are challenging to find in this broader region. Over $900 million of investment, employing approximately 800 jobs, are expressing interest in Weirton Frontier Crossings.