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FEATURE STORY: Racing To Be Ready – U.S. Ports Prepare for Post Panamax Era

By Jenny Vickers
From the July/August 2013 issue

When the Panama Canal expansion is complete in 2015, supersized post-Panamax ships from Asia will be able to traverse the canal and, for the first time, have direct all-water shipping access to ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast. For years, these megaships docked on the West Coast, sending cargo to U.S. markets via train or truck. However, a wider and deeper Panama Canal is giving shipping companies less expensive options for shipping to Gulf and East Coast ports.

The Panama Canal expansion project is expected to alter global trade routes. As older, smaller ships come offline, they are being replaced with Super Post-Panamax cargo ships, some of which are three-and-a-half football fields wide. These ships can carry over twice the amount of cargo (12,500 TEUs or 20-foot containers) compared to the Panamax ships that hold no more than 5,000 TEU. Bigger ships and more cargo can result in economic windfall for a port.

As a result, Gulf and East Coast ports are vying to attract the bigger ships and all of the economic benefits that come with them. However, the ports have to be post-Panamax ready (PPR). This means ports must have both a 50-foot channel depth with sufficient channel width and turning basin size, cranes capable of loading and unloading Post Panamax ships, and terminal docks engineered to handle the new, bigger cranes required for such vessels.

Currently, the Port of Baltimore and Port of Virginia (in Norfolk) are the only East Coast ports that can accommodate the large ships. However, the competition is heating up as other ports build up their infrastructure and dredge their channels to get ready.

West Coast ports, meanwhile, aren’t giving up their share of this shipping bonanza without a fight. Major maritime shipping hubs including Los Angeles/Long Beach, Seattle/Tacoma and Oakland are ready to service the huge post-Panamax containers. These ports are reminding cross-country destinations that they can still get containers to them faster over land than it will take the big ships traveling through the Canal to reach East and Gulf Coast Ports. Rail freight facilities in Los Angeles are being upgraded to make the turnaround times even faster.

Here’s a look at what several major ports are doing to put themselves in contention for the lion’s share of the post-Panamax business from the expanded Panama Canal.

BALTIMORE IS READY TO GREET THE BIG SHIPS

The Port of Baltimore is one of only two East Coast ports, along with the Port of Virginia in Norfolk, now able to handle post-Panamax ships. The Port has had a 50-foot deep channel since 1990.

Under a public-private partnership (P3) agreement with Ports America Chesapeake, a 50-foot deep container berth was constructed in 2012. In January 2013, four Super Post-Panamax cranes became operational on the new container berth. The cranes were also part of the agreement.

According to Maryland Gov. O’Malley, this project is putting the Port of Baltimore in an excellent competitive position for when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015.

“This new 50-foot-deep berth and these cranes were absolutely critical to the long-term future of the Port of Baltimore, enabling Maryland to retain existing business and jobs while allowing us to accommodate new business and create new jobs that will come aboard the larger ships that are on the horizon,” said Gov. O’Malley. “Through our collaboration with Ports America, we’re moving the Port of Baltimore forward, creating jobs and connecting our State with cities and ports half a world away. This project puts the Port of Baltimore in an excellent competitive position when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015—a project that will literally change the face of the maritime shipping business.”

The P3 project is a 50-year agreement between the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) and Ports America Chesapeake to lease and operate the 200-acre Seagirt Marine Terminal. Under the agreement, Ports America Chesapeake has daily operational control of Seagirt, but the state continues to own the facility.

The 50-foot deep container berth was completed in 2012, two years ahead of its original schedule. Each of the four supersized cranes, known in the maritime industry as Super Post-Panamax, are 400-feet tall with the boom fully raised, can reach 22 containers across on a ship and can lift 187,500 pounds of cargo. Each crane weighs 1,550 tons and is fully electric so it emits no diesel emissions.

“This new investment in port infrastructure is an important step forward to help grow our local economy and to secure the Port of Baltimore’s future for years to come,” said Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Black. “Combined with other private, state and city port-related infrastructure investments, our port will be poised for major growth, new jobs and surging economic activity in the Baltimore region.”

Over the next 50 years, the P3 project is expected to generate up to $1.8 billion in total investment and revenue for the state of Maryland and to create a total of 5,700 jobs.

The P3 agreement also has played a key role in laying the groundwork for the future of P3 projects in Maryland. In April 2013, P3 legislation was signed into law, providing the private sector with a stronger, more predictable and streamlined process for future P3 projects. It also protects public assets, ensures a strong workforce, requires competitive bidding for all projects and allows the private sector to submit new “unsolicited” concepts to address Maryland’s infrastructure needs.

In May 2013, CSX Transportation Inc. started seeking city and state approval for its planned 70-acre intermodal facility in Southwest Baltimore, putting the project on schedule to handle increased cargo from the Port of Baltimore beginning in 2015.

CSX has selected the Mount Clare rail yard in Baltimore for the proposed intermodal site. The facility will allow the transfer of double-stack cargo containers from trucks leaving the Port of Baltimore onto trains. Trains will then be able to bypass the Howard Street tunnel, which can only fit single-stack containers.

The Port and CSX are hoping to complete the $90 million project by May 2015, in time for the expansion of the Panama Canal and the expected increase in cargo containers to Baltimore.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the largest ports in the U.S. Serving over two thirds of the eastern seaboard, it is second only to New York in gross tonnage. The Port had a record year in 2012, seeing $36.8 million tons of cargo cross their docks—a total dollar value of more than $54 billion—the Port’s highest dollar value ever.

PORT OF VIRGINIA: READY FOR POST-PANAMAX SINCE 2006

The Port of Virginia in Norfolk is the first port on the U.S. East Coast to be ready to handle the newer, bigger post-Panamax ships. The Port has had 50-foot-deep channels since 2006 and all of its berths are at 50-feet. As a result, the port is engaged in other projects to market itself as not only the deepest shipping channel on the East Coast, but the most attractive.

The Port is home to eight Suez-class rail-mounted gantry cranes and 14 Panamax rail-mounted gantry cranes in the harbor. The combined berth is more than one-and-a-half miles. Nearly 50 shipping lines connect the Port of Virginia to the world’s primary ports.

The Port also contains the APM Terminals in Portsmouth—the most technologically advanced container terminal in the world. Construction of Craney Island Marine Terminal is underway at the Port, while dredging began last fall and will continue for the next eight to 10 years.

The Craney Island Marine Terminal is a long-term project that will more than double the existing throughput capacity of the Port. The present effort in this part of the project is to develop 600 acres that will be the foundation of Virginia’s fourth, deep-water marine terminal. The first phase of the terminal is scheduled to open in the 2025-2028 timeframe. In 2012, more than 1 million cubic yards of recycled dredge material was deposited in the development of the terminal.

In February 2013, the project reached an important milestone when the two southernmost dikes needed for the development of Craney Island Marine Terminal became visible above water-level as the massive structures began poking through the Elizabeth River’s low-tide line.

“This is an important milestone as we can now truly see the progress; it was hard to get an image of what we were talking about when everything was still underwater,” said Rodney W. Oliver, interim executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). “As this project has now become something tangible, so too has the reality of The Port of Virginia becoming the East Coast’s cargo gateway. When Craney Island is finished, this port will have more capacity than any of its peers on this coast.”

The effort to divide Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PTM), the Ports second largest terminal, into parcels for multiple users continues. The first commitment is ecoFUELS, which will export wood pellets to the European market. Construction on that facility is scheduled to start in the third quarter.

With 3,540 feet of wharf, three berths, and 6 cranes, PMT is able to handle container, break-bulk and RO/RO cargo. PMT also has direct access to both CSX and NS railways, and will soon connect to the Commonwealth Railway. Its key feature is highly automated 30+ lane transfer zones and automated live e-gates.

In addition, the Port’s continued growth of its largest rail carrier, Norfolk Southern. The Port currently has service by two Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern and CSX—both offer double-stack service to critical manufacturing and population centers.

With 9.8 percent growth in 2012, the Port of Virginia was the fastest growing container port on the US East Coast last year, according to comparative data from the coast’s leading container ports compiled by the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). In 2012, The Port of Virginia handled 2,105, 887 TEUs, which is the second best year in port history. Only 22,479 TEUS separated 2012 from 2007, which is the port’s best year on record in terms of TEUs.

DREDGING THE DELAWARE AS PHILADELPHIA GETS READY

A massive, $300-million Delaware River dredging project is helping the Port of Philadelphia get post-Panamax Ready. The project, which began three years ago and is expected to be completed by 2017, is more than halfway done after workers finished dredging an 11-mile stretch, known as Reach D, last month. The next segment slated for dredging is in the Delaware Bay. That work is expected to begin in September.

With the completion in late May of Reach D (part of the Delaware River’s main shipping channel) in Delaware, the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project is now about 60 percent complete. The deepening project, funded by both the federal government and its local sponsor, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), will ultimately deepen 102 miles of the Delaware River shipping channel to 45 feet.

“After years of discussions and hurdles, it’s wonderful to finally see steady progress on this critical project,” said PRPA Chairman Charles G. Kopp. “A deeper shipping channel will allow us to welcome a wider variety of cargo vessels to the Port of Philadelphia. Other ports are also deepening their channels, and it is so important that we do so, as well.”

Since the first dredge vessel began work in spring of 2010, Reach C (12 miles); a 4-mile stretch of Reach B; and most of the 11 miles comprising Reach A have already been completed.

The Delaware River Main-Channel Deepening Project is being performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with PRPA and private dredging contractors that it selects through a public bidding process. During the course of the Reach D phase, which was performed without incident, about 1 million cubic yards of dredged material was removed and deposited at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Artificial Island disposal site in New Jersey.

With the exception of some boulders and cobbles that are to be removed, Reach D is now essentially complete, aid Lisa Urban Magee, PRPA Director of Special Projects and the agency’s chief environmental engineer.

PRPA is now working with its allies, including Gov. Corbett and state and federal officials from both Pennsylvania and Delaware, to secure the remaining funding needed to complete the project. The next portion of the project, lower Reach E in the Delaware Bay, has recently been advertised and is scheduled for award this summer.

The Delaware River Main-Channel Deepening Project will not only serve PRPA facilities at the Port of Philadelphia, but many other public and private maritime facilities along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a deeper Delaware River, in addition to protecting existing market share, will substantially expand jobs and economic impact for the regional maritime industry and the related industries that support it.

According to the PRPA, the Port of Philadelphia handled 2,519,967 metric tons of cargo during the first six months of 2013 compared to the 2,217,803 metric tons of cargo handled during the same period of 2012, representing a 13.62 percent gain in cargoes handled. If current cargo trends continue throughout the remainder of the year, 2013 will be the fourth straight year of double-digit cargo growth at the Port of Philadelphia.

CHARLESTON DIGS IN AND PREPARES FOR BATTLE

The Port of Charleston is gearing up for the surge of additional big ships when the Panama Canal is widened in 2015. Between the SC Ports Authority’s and the State of South Carolina’s planned investments, roughly $2 billion in port-related infrastructure, including a next harbor deepening project, are making the port post-Panamax ready.

The SC Ports Authority has in place a 10-year, $1.3 billion capital plan that includes improvements to existing facilities and major new capacity in the form of a new 280-acre container terminal in the Port of Charleston. The State of South Carolina also has allocated about $700 million in port-related projects in the works, including a new dual-rail served container staging yard in North Charleston, a port access road tying the SC Ports Authority’s new container terminal to I-26 and a harbor deepening project.

The Charleston Harbor Deepening project to take the port’s existing shipping channels from 45 to 50 feet in depth represents one of the SC Ports Authority’s top strategic priorities. The port and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced that five years have been shaved off the anticipated dredging approval process, shortening the completion date from 2024 to now 2019. After the expansion project is complete, the port will increase its competitiveness as the shipping industry ramps up big-ship deployments.

The port currently has the deepest harbor in its competitive region (the South Atlantic), which is critical to supporting exporting activity from the Southeast. Already, ships of capacity in excess of 9,000 TEUs are calling on the port, but on a tidally restricted basis. In 2013 alone, the Port of Charleston expects around 300 post-Panamax ship calls at its docks, further underscoring the need for deepening.

The SC General Assembly has set aside $300 million to cover the project’s entire construction cost, if needed, and the federal dollars needed to complete the feasibility study have been allocated, meaning that the project is proceeding with no funding or staff resource constraints. The deepening project is the first-in-the-nation utilizing new streamlining measures and was selected as one of the Obama Administration’s We Can’t Wait projects.

The SC Ports Authority’s capital plan also includes a new inland port facility in Greer, SC. The South Carolina Inland Port (SCIP) is located 212 miles from Charleston and located proximate to major port customers in the Upstate such as BMW, Michelin and others. The Upstate of South Carolina is home to the largest share of the port’s in-state customers, including a large manufacturing base. The facility provides access to 94 million consumers within 500 miles (one day drive).

The facility will, upon opening, convert approximately 25,000 annual truck movements of containers on I-26 to rail movements, which will help alleviate congestion on one of the state’s highways while also improving the efficiency of freight movement. It is slated to open in the fall of 2013.

Charleston is one of 17 commercial “Strategic Ports” in the U.S. and ranks eighth in the U.S. for cargo value at $63 billion per year. It is the fourth busiest East Coast port for container traffic with 1.51 million TEUs handled per year. Charleston’s port-related activities support more than 260,800 jobs, 11 percent of all jobs in the state.

MIAMI: A GLOBAL LOGISTICS HUB

To prepare for the widening of the Panama Canal, PortMiami has invested over $2 billion in infrastructure improvements, the most significant of which are the Deep Dredge project, the restoration of on-port intermodal rail service and the PortMiami Tunnel project.

Super-sized cranes, pictured above at PortMiami, are required to load and offload the huge containers that are carried by Post-Panamax ships into harbors that are deep enough to accommodate 50 feet of underwater clearance. (Photo: PortMiami.)

The Port will begin the construction phase of its Deep Dredge project that will deepen its channel to 50 feet this summer. This will allow it to be the only port south of Virginia to have that kind of depth. The project remains on schedule to open in sync with the expanded Panama Canal.

“The Deep Dredge project is vital to the future success and growth of our seaport,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carola A. Gimenez. “PortMiami will be the only U.S. East Coast Port south of Virginia to be at the required minus 50 feet level in time to welcome the new generation of larger container cargo vessels arriving via the expanded Panama Canal.”

According to PortMiami Director Bill Johnson, the Port is committed to upholding the highest environmental standards for the project.

The dredge project includes the restoration of more than 16 acres of sea grass in northern Biscayne Bay and the creation of over nine acres of artificial reef. In order to minimize impact on existing resources, the Port’s mitigation measures include the relocation of hard coral colonies greater than 25 cm and those that are between 10 and 25 cm. Additionally, divers will be in the water adjacent to the project to monitor natural resources for turbidity and sedimentation effects before, during and after all dredging activities ensuring the highest environmental protection monitoring protocols outside of a national marine sanctuary.

The Port also is acquiring four new Super Post-Panamax cranes, which are on the way to PortMiami and are scheduled to arrive in early September. The new cranes were manufactured by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. in Shanghai, China.

According to PortMiami officials, these new cranes, along with two other Super Post-Panamax cranes now on-port, will help increase container cargo traffic in coming years.

With an outreach of 223 feet, the new teal and white cranes will be able to work ships that are up to 22 containers wide with up to nine containers high above deck and 11 containers high below deck. They have state-of-the-art ABB drive and control systems that can record all crane activities. They are fully electrical and powered by 13.2kV with provisions for back-up diesel power.

PortMiami also has partnered with Florida East Coast railway to bring back on-port rail. The new on-port intermodal rail service will allow inbound cargo from PortMiami to reach 70 percent of the U.S. population within one to four days, including the major population centers of Florida.

The PortMiami Tunnel Project, which is expected to be completed in 2014, includes construction of a four-lane tunnel that will run under Biscayne Bay to connect the port directly to the interstate system.

Overall, these three projects will enable the Port to reach its goal to double cargo traffic before the end of the decade and become a leading global logistics hub. PortMiami is among America’s busiest ports and recognized across the globe with the dual distinction of being the Cruise Capital of the World and the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. PortMiami contributes approximately $28 billion annually to the South Florida economy and helps provide direct and indirect employment for more than 207,000.

THE BAYONNE BRIDGE IS RISING

More than 80 years after it was built, the Bayonne Bridge is about to rise again.

Rendering of the Bayonne Bridge, as it will look after it is raised to permit passage of Post-Panamax container vessels. (Photo: NJ.com.)

The Bayonne Bridge, a historic civil engineering landmark designed by Othmar H. Ammann, is the fourth longest steel arch bridge in the world. It connects Bayonne, New Jersey, with Staten Island, New York, spanning the Kill Van Kull. Construction began in September 1928 and was completed in 1931. The primary purpose of the bridge was to allow vehicular traffic from Staten Island to reach Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel.

Today, because the bridge is only 151 feet above the water, larger container ships often cannot cross under it to reach marine terminals including Port Newark, Elizabeth and Howland Hook in Staten Island. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the Bayonne Bridge, is in the process of commencing an ambitious $1-billion project to raise the bridge roadway by an additional 65 feet. The added height is needed to accommodate huge container ships traveling from an expanded Panama Canal to terminals in Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island on the Kill Van Kull.

The Port Authority says the project is essential to remain competitive with other East Coast ports preparing to greet mammoth post-Panamax vessels that will be able to bring goods directly from Asia when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015.

When the Bayonne Bridge was completed in 1931, the American Institute of Steel Construction declared the elegant span connecting New Jersey and Staten Island “the most beautiful steel bridge open to traffic in the United States.” The decision to use a single, innovative, arch-shaped truss to span the Kill Van Kull waterway was inspired in part by its beauty, said chief designer Ammann at the dedication ceremony on Nov. 14, 1931.

“The Port Authority recognized the fact that its structures must not only be useful, but they must also conform to the aesthetic sense. This was one of the motives for the selection of an arch spanning the entire river in one sweeping graceful curve,” said Ammann, who also designed the George Washington Bridge.

Amman and his engineers constructed two giant viaducts at each end of the steel arch to ensure that the elevated roadway of the Bayonne Bridge would be suspended 150 feet above the water, providing clearance for the U.S. Navy’s tallest ships in the 1930s. Despite its challenging design, the bridge was completed in less than three years at a cost of $13 million.

The Bayonne Bridge was the world’s longest steel-arch bridge for 45 years. At 1,675 feet, the arch was more than twice as long as the previous record-holder, the Hell Gate Railroad Bridge in New York City. A sister bridge of the same design, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was built in Australia but was 25 inches shorter than its relative in NJ.

At the Bayonne Bridge dedication ceremony, representatives from the Sydney Harbour Bridge Commission participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony where a pair of custom-made golden scissors was used. Four months later, a delegation from New York and New Jersey participated in the ribbon cutting for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The same pair of scissors was used, and following the ceremony, it was taken apart and each bridge authority carried away a golden blade. In 1977, the 1,700-foot arch of West Virginia’s New River Gorge Bridge became the longest steel-arch span.

NOLA: WORLD’S BUSIEST PORT

The Port of New Orleans is at the center of the world’s busiest port complex—Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi River. Its proximity to the American Midwest via a 14,500-mile inland waterway system, six Class One railroads and the interstate highway system makes New Orleans the port of choice for the movement of cargoes such as steel, rubber, coffee, containers and manufactured goods.

Ships working at the Port of New Orleans Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. The port has handled up to 9,500 TEU vessels. The intermodal terminal and the other improvements were part of phase II of the container terminal, which they are working to complete. When all the phases are complete the total capacity of the Napoleon Ave. Container Terminal will be 1.6 million TEUs. (Photo: Port of New Orleans.)

In 2012, the Port of New Orleans completed more than $100 million in new infrastructure projects port-wide in order to grow its port facilities to handle rising trade volumes tied to the Panama Canal expansion. Two new post-Panamax gantry cranes able to reach 19-containers across went to work, along with a new 40,000-square-foot Riverfront Cold Storage Facility and expanded and improved marshaling yards at several wharfs.

In May 2012, Gov. Bobby Jindal cut the ribbon on a $36.4 million investment in the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal, which added two new gantry cranes and 4.5 acres of container marshaling yard—bringing the terminal’s capacity to 640,000 TEU units per year.

“We have grown our container volumes significantly over the last few years by focusing on the needs of the shippers and by making smart investments in our capacity,” said Gary P. LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “We are proud of what we have accomplished, but know that we will have to continue to work hard to reach our goal of handling 1 million containers per year at the Napoleon Ave. Container Terminal.”

Before the expansion of the marshaling yard, the Port had the capacity to handle about 594,000 TEUs per year. With the new 4.5 acres, the capacity has grown to 640,000 TEUs per year. Altogether, the expansion will support more than 1.2 million containers per year with continued investment.

With the addition of two new cranes, the Port has a total of six cranes to service container ships. The new cranes are larger than the existing cranes and are specifically designed to handle the larger container ships.

The new cranes are mounted on a 100-foot-gauge rail system so they can be used along various parts of the berth. They can reach across 19 rows of containers stacked on a ship.

The port also received a $16.7 million grant for improvements to the Napoleon Avenue Intermodal Terminal. The project will reconfigure and modernize an existing 12-acre rail yard that services the adjacent Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal into an efficient intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF). This will improve rail service and efficiency and capitalize on the six Class One railroads that service the Port. Construction will begin in December 2013 and take 12 months to complete.

The state also passed legislation in order to increase competitiveness and give the ports a jobs’ boost. SB122 modifies the Investor Tax Credit (ITC) and the Import-Export Tax Credit (IETC) by expanding the types of projects that qualify for exemptions. Projects that will qualify for the credit include warehousing and storage, port operations, marine cargo handling, ship building and repairs and oil and gas activities.

“This legislation will further allow us to capitalize on one of our greatest economic assets—our port system,” said Louisiana Senator Norby Chabert, who authored the SB122 tax credit legislation. “It will incentivize investment, which will provide more jobs for Louisianans in our energy sector, and increase the shipping of goods through our waterways.”

JACKSONVILLE AIMS TO BE THE GATEWAY TO WORLDWIDE SHIPPING

The goal of the Port of Jacksonville is that it become a gateway port—one where the largest post-Panamax container ships stop first and leave on their ocean-bound journeys.

Views from a Crane by JAXPORT Crane Tech Roy Crumpler. (Photo: JAXPORT.)

Currently, the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) has proposed to increase the depth of its existing channel from 40-feet to 47-feet. Jacksonville’s main shipping channel is a 21-mile stretch of the St. Johns River extending from the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean to JAXPORT’s Talleyrand Marine Terminal just north of downtown Jacksonville. Along this route, an 11-mile segment of the shipping channel is being studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to increase the depth to 47-feet from the mouth of the St. Johns River to JAXPORT’S facilities.

The deeper harbor depth will allow Jacksonville to accommodate the draft requirements of fully-loaded cargo vessels—both Panamax and the new Panamax class—which currently call on Jacksonville’s port. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to issue a final report on the feasibility of the project in April 2014. The project must then be presented to U.S. Congress for authorization.

“As the owner and manager of Jacksonville’s public cargo terminals, JAXPORT considers a deeper harbor essential to keeping Jacksonville’s port viable,” said JAXPORT Interim CEO Roy Schleicher.

In January 2013, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced a commitment of $38 million in state and local funding to complete the Mile Point project, where intracoastal and river currents post navigational hindrances for deep draft vessels during certain tidal conditions. The investment enables JAXPORT to jumpstart the final phase of fixing this navigational hazard in the St. Johns River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the project, which is expected to support 3,500 jobs throughout the region.

“The Mile Point project will improve the flow of the St. Johns River at Mile Point—an effort that is critical for handling the port’s current cargo ships as well as strengthening the port’s ability to successfully compete for more post-Panamax ships in the future,” said JAXPORT’s Schleicher.

The Port is also developing an intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF) at Dames Point to facilitate the direct transfer of containers between vessels and trains. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded JAXPORT a $10 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant toward the development of the facility and the State of Florida Department of Transportation has allocated $20 million to fund the project.

Forecast to open in two years, the new facility will complement existing on-dock rail facilities at JAXPORT’s Talleyrand and Blount Island terminals and will further enhance the competitiveness of the TraPac Container Terminal.

At the same time, the port is enhancing infrastructure at Blount Island Marine Terminal and Talleyrand terminals with new equipment and upgrades to wharves, rail and terminal areas.

The Blount Island Marine Terminal is undergoing structural rehabilitation with the rebuilding of six berths. The project is anticipated to be completed in 2015. Structural rehabilitation of sheet pile walls in four berths at the Talleyrand Marine Terminal will begin next year. The project is anticipated to be completed in 2016.

Meanwhile, the TraPac Container Terminal features capacity to handle approximately 1 million TEUs annually, which benefits South Atlantic shippers looking to streamline their supply chains. Since the TraPac terminal opened in 2009, many retailers and 3PL firms have begun to take advantage of the global container services offered at the facility. In addition, more than 10 million square feet of warehousing and distribution space has been developed in NE Florida over the last few years, solidifying Jacksonville’s role as the major distribution focus among South Atlantic shippers.

In 2012, JAXPORT’s three cargo terminals handled a total of 8.2 million tons of cargo, including more than 923,000 TEUs—a new container record—and more than 608,000 vehicles. JAXPORT now ranks as the No. 1 vehicle export port in the United States.

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