JEFFERSON CITY -Manufacturers and agricultural producers near the Mississippi and Illinois rivers might soon gain access to new markets and lower shipping costs, based on a new study that reveals transporting oversized goods and equipment by water routes is feasible and can lower costs for businesses and consumers."Due to advances in containerization and the business community's creativity in overcoming barriers, river shipping options are expanding rapidly," said Michelle Teel, director of MoDOT's Multimodal Operations division. "As it becomes easier and more affordable to move unconventional freight on the rivers, Midwestern goods are more likely to expand into the global marketplace. That's good for the region, good for businesses and because river transportation is fuel-efficient, it's good for the environment." In the U.S., freight volume averages more than three percent growth each year. Shipping oversized equipment and containers of grain or other consumer products by truck requires a complex process of oversize/overweight permitting and other requirements that can vary by state. The plan proposed in this study shows how coordination between public and private interests can make transport via the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers a feasible alternative for businesses near these waterways. "This study certainly demonstrates how important inland waterways are to our local, regional, and global commerce on the Illinois River and the Mississippi River," said Ann L. Schneider, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. "We look forward to working with the Missouri Department of Transportation on strengthening this important asset as we continue to seek innovative methods of enhancing intermodal connections across our transportation systems."The study was sponsored by the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Heart of Illinois Port of Peoria and the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration. The study included a market analysis and operational and business plans. The study can be found at http://bit.ly/1cVcMV8.