Transient Dock to Accommodate Increase in Riverboat Traffic
Friday, March 08, 2019
Red Wing is poised to become the preeminent historic destination for tourists traveling the Mississippi River. A new transient dock being built in Levee Park is helping facilitate this “River Town Renaissance,” which is expected to drive tourism and boost area economic development.
The transient dock will help the city take full advantage of the surge in popularity of old fashioned riverboat cruises. Such tours have become more popular in recent years as people seek unique and authentic American travel experiences.
Red Wing’s distinctive natural beauty, historic charm and vibrant downtown make it an attractive cruise stop. Riverboat tourism has already helped inject millions of dollars into the local economy each year. Cruise visitors not only tour town attractions such as the marine and pottery museums, they often dine at local restaurants and patronize downtown shops.
Companies like the American Queen Steamboat Company consider Red Wing an important stop on its tours of the Mississippi. Two riverboats can tie up along Levee Wall, but the riverboats don’t currently have dock access there.
The transient dock will build off the existing Levee Wall to make it easier for passengers, employees and suppliers to get off and on the boats. It will enhance safety and accessibility and also reduce scheduling conflicts among the riverboat companies.
Shari Chorney, the Red Wing Port Authority’s business development manager, points out that Levee Park is an especially attractive location for docking because it’s right downtown. Riverboats could stop at alternative high water docks at different parks in Red Wing but that necessitates the use of busses to transport passengers downtown.
“Convenience alone to improve the dockage area is really the whole reason we’re doing this,” says Chorney. “This opens up the potential for additional boat traffic into Red Wing.”
The dock is expected to be completed by August. The season’s riverboat traffic begins on July 14 and concludes October 12. There are 20 cruise stops scheduled in Red Wing during that time from the American, American Queen, Queen of the Mississippi, American Duchess and the American Harmony.
The project had input from public advisory committees, including representatives from city and governmental boards and commissions as well as private nonprofit members such as the local chamber and visitors bureau. The riverfront industry and commercial riverboat operators were also consulted.
The Red Wing Port Authority was able to use port development assistance funds to help finance the transient dock. The funds are administered by MnDOT and have the goal of enhancing access to waterway transportation to benefits both industry and the public. “That’s a great benefit of being a waterway port,” says Chorney.