Gov. Beshear To Lead Waterway Development Authority

Kentucky State Seal




Crystal Staley

Scottie Ellis

Gov. Beshear To Lead Waterway Development Authority

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2023) – Gov. Andy Beshear has been elected by the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority to serve as its chairman for 2023, with members citing the Governor’s tremendous support of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and the inland waterway system during his time in office.

Gov. Beshear helped implement the Kentucky Lake Research Project, an experimental system of netting, pumping, lights and sounds to target and eradicate Asian carp, an invasive fish species, and restore tourism surrounding Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The Governor also awarded grants of $500,000 to four Kentucky riverports, including the Paducah-McCracken Riverport Authority for the construction of a steel commodity hopper and gate system. He also announced that River View Coal LLC would create 260 new jobs and invest $35 million dollars in Henderson County using the inland waterway system to ship coal.

Gov. Beshear has the distinction of being the first and only chairman in the history of the Tenn-Tom Waterway to have had a parent previously serve as chairman as well. Gov. Beshear’s father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, served as chairman of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority in 2011 and 2015.

“The state of Kentucky has been blessed with tremendous water resources, which provides great opportunities for commerce, recreation and tourism. It is a pleasure to serve as chairman of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority for 2023 to help expand on those opportunities for future growth,” Gov. Beshear said. “Ports and waterways directly contribute $2.5 billion to the Kentucky economy and support over 15,000 Kentucky jobs. The Tenn-Tom Waterway provides a vital link to the Gulf of Mexico and the world to Kentucky business and industry. I look forward to working with the member states of the authority to promote our waterways while keeping focus on the authority’s stated mission.”

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority is a four-state interstate compact comprising the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, and ratified by Congress in 1958 to promote the development of the Tenn-Tom Waterway and its economic and trade potential. Members include the governors of each member state and five appointees by the four governors for a total of 24 members. Chairmanship rotates annually among the four governors.

“There are many challenges facing the inland waterway system, and Gov. Beshear’s leadership is vital to our efforts with the US. Army Corps of Engineers and waterway stakeholders,” said Mitch Mays, administrator for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority. “The authority is looking forward to working closely with Gov. Beshear in order to ensure that the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway continues to make a positive impact for all members of the compact.”

The waterway compact will also be led in 2023 by John McConnell of Murray, Kentucky, as vice-chairman and T.L. “Bud” Phillips of Columbus, Mississippi, who was reelected as treasurer. McConnell is a seasoned insurance professional with over 25 years of experience who has been a member of the authority since 2020. Phillips, a businessman, is the longest-serving member of the authority, having first been appointed in 1988.

“It will be an honor to assist Gov. Beshear as he serves as chairman in 2023,” said McConnell. “I am excited about promoting the mission of the Tenn-Tom Waterway in all our future endeavors.”

The Tenn-Tom opened to commerce in 1985 and has proven to be a vital transportation route for shipping raw materials and other bulk products between mid-America and the Southeast. Its cost effectiveness and energy-efficient barge service have attracted billions of dollars of new and expanded industrial development to the waterway region. An extensive development of marinas, campgrounds and other related facilities has also made the waterway corridor a major attraction for recreationists and nature lovers.