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Council OK's Site Plan for Barge Loading Facility

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
September 09, 2019
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Illustration by Desmone Architects, courtesy River Materials Inc.)

A barge and railcar loading facility now under construction near the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge will transform the appearance of the RIDC Industrial Park, McKeesport officials said.

At Wednesday's meeting, McKeesport city council by 6-0 vote approved a request from River Materials Inc. of Forest Hills to combine four separate parcels of land into one parcel.

River Materials is planning to use about 18 to 19 acres of the former U.S. Steel National Works site for warehousing, processing and recycling, as well as truck, barge and railroad loading and unloading services for power plants and other industrial customers.

Cliff Wise, president and chief executive officer of River Materials, also owns General Trade Corp., Gulf Materials LLC, Gulf Trading and Transport LLC and Specialty Steel Products.

(Courtesy River Materials Inc.)

Wise said he's been working to provide new services to two large coal-fired power plants in Indiana and Armstrong counties. The plants consume coal and produce synthetic gypsum as a byproduct, Wise said.

"Up until now they haven't been shipping very much by barge," he said. "Our intention is to transport it and keep their costs down."

A building material factory in Beaver County is expected to be one of the customers for the synthetic gypsum, Wise said.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said River Materials' facility will occupy one of the last large vacant areas at the old National Works site, which is operated by Regional Industrial Development Corp.

"With the exception of the (former) Echostar building, (the) RIDC park is now mostly occupied, and there's a chance that half of that may be leased, too," Cherepko said, adding that Pure Penn, a producer of medical marijuana derivatives, is looking to "double or triple the size of their operation, which could be another possible 50 or 60 jobs."

As for River Materials, the mayor said the plans that the company has developed for the site are impressive. "I think it will become one of the nicer parts of the RIDC park," Cherepko said.

"It wasn't easy, and it was probably a year-long process to get through everything, but they're getting ready to provide good-paying jobs in the City of McKeesport, and I think it's only the beginning," he said. "I think there are a lot of other opportunities that are going to spin off (from) there."

Wise said the mayor and city hall staff were a big help, as were state Sen. Jim Brewster and state Rep. Austin Davis.

Cherepko even visited one of River Materials' facilities, along with city administrator Tom Maglicco and community development director A.J. Tedesco, Wise said.

"You all have been very supportive," he said.

Jason Togyer is the editor of The Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at jtogyer@gmail.com.

Originally published September 09, 2019.

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