PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois River is considered one of the heaviest-traveled port areas in the country.

That’s why stakeholders met in Peoria on Wednesday, to discuss ways transportation could be improved.

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said barges on the river deliver more than agricultural products and materials such as salt for the roadways in the winter.

“Using the river for barge traffic for shipping commodities is a much cheaper way to go. Especially if you are dealing with large commodities of say grain, whether it’s corn or soybeans, whether it’s salt for the roads. Nothing compares to the efficiency of using river traffic for those kinds of commodities,” Koehler said.

Bill Bodine, Director of Business and Regulatory Affairs with the Illinois Farm Bureau agrees, saying river traffic can help farmers be competitive in the world market.

Bodine also said increasing the size of the locks and dams is beneficial.

“It’s huge. It’s extremely important to be able to move those barges more efficiently with the amount of goods that we are shipping down the river, the economic impact of making improvements would be huge and significant for all farmers around the state of Illinois,” said Bodine.

Another talking point during Wednesday’s meeting, addressed preserving the environment and ecology of the Illinois River.

Koheler said, “This is one of the most valuable assets we have. So we have to protect it, and use it right.”