By staff and wire reports

JEFERSONVILLE — A $545,000 federal grant to expand the Ports of Indiana facility in Jeffersonville is expected to take more than 2,000 heavy trucks off local highways annually.

Ports Authority plans to use the federal grant to locate a steel barge shuttle site that officials say will boost steel coil shipments at the state’s Ohio River port in Jeffersonville from a manufacturer in Gallatin County, Kentucky.

The U.S. Department of Transportation grant will support the $778,000 project, which includes building an outdoor storage area and buying a forklift to handle steel coils at the port.

The project was developed with Nucor Steel Gallatin in Kentucky to allow barge shipment of steel coils from the Ghent, Kentucky, manufacturing site to the Jeffersonville port.

The Ports of Indiana said the development will bring supply chain efficiencies to Nucor Steel and its private sector partners while also taking more than 2,000 trucks off northern Kentucky and southern Indiana highways.

Ports of Indiana Senior Vice President Jody Peacock said the federal grant would provide critical funding for the project to “allow Nucor to better utilize our Jeffersonville port’s cargo handling facilities to serve customers and to grow future business.”

The Jeffersonville port handles Ohio River shipments of steel, agriculture and industrial cargoes, and provides more than 1,000 acres of industrial sites for multimodal businesses. It is operated by the Ports of Indiana, a statewide port authority that manages three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan.

Nucor, which also has rail access, is one of three steel processing industries located along the Ohio River on U.S. 42 in Carroll and Gallatin counties.