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story.lead_photo.caption Backers of a proposed Missouri River port in or near Jefferson City are working to advance the project. Photo by Julie Smith / Fulton Sun.

The Heartland Port Authority is stalled in gaining access to the land for the proposed Missouri River port site.

Gov. Mike Parson in July signed a locally sponsored bill transferring 116 acres of state-owned land just east of the Ike Skelton Training Facility in Jefferson City to the Port Authority.

Heartland Port Authority Chairman Rick Mihalevich said Thursday the Missouri Office of Administration has not granted the Port Authority access to the site yet.

"We're the buyers, and at this point, we're not allowed to inspect and see what we've got there," he said.

Without access to view the property, he continued, the Port Authority doesn't know what the land looks like or how much of it might be usable.

Additionally, it means members of the Port Authority board don't have information needed for negotiations over the worth of the land or whether it will be used through rent, long-term lease or purchase.

A $120,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $100,000 from the Missouri Department of Transportation will be spent to jump-start the port approval process, Mihalevich previously said.

The MoDOT funding needs to be used by June 30, said Missy Bonnot, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce interim president and director.

"It's like buying a house," she said. "You have to get in there and do your inspections. We don't know what's on the site. I mean, we have a pretty good idea, but all we're asking for them to do right now is just let us set foot on the site. And it's been extremely challenging and extremely frustrating."

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