Benefits to shippers, to consumers, to the TVA region
The economies of water transportation are clear: Products that are made from commodities shipped in bulk quantities would cost more without the option of river transportation. The rivers availability as a competitive transportation option also helps to keep truck and rail prices down.
River transportation has a direct impact on the prices consumers pay for the things they buy. Soft drinks, ice cream, baked goods and pancake syrup, for example, are all sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup made from grain grown in the Midwest. Some of this corn is loaded onto barges and shipped down the upper Mississippi River, then up the Ohio River and eventually up the Tennessee River to a processing plant in Loudon, Tenn. Because a reliable, inexpensive river route is available, these goods and many other consumer products cost less.
Navigation has contributed greatly to the economic and industrial development of the Tennessee Valley as a whole. For example, the poultry industry in north Alabama would not have located where it did without water transportation. The economies of cities like Decatur and Chattanooga would not be as dynamic as they are today, were it not for the Tennessee River.
Substantial investments have been made in waterfront plants, terminals and distribution facilities all along the river. These industries provide direct employment for many thousands of residents of the TVA region. Thriving river traffic is a key ingredient in a healthy economic future for the region.