Aggregate demand could spur Port Everglades near-dock rail
Port Everglades could have an on-port rail yard within the next three years because of an anticipated increase in demand for construction-related aggregate materials, Port Director Phil Allen said Thursday.
That could eventually impact the port's intermodal rail service for containerized cargo, which is now drayed between the Florida East Coast intermodal rail yard about one mile from the port. Allen said an on-port rail facility, envisioned in a new 20-year master plan being finalized, calls for separate-but-adjacent rail handling areas for aggregate material such as crushed rock, and an intermodal section for containers. He predicted the intermodal yard is about five years from becoming a reality.
The new rail yard would be located just inland from the Southport section of the port, where the largest container terminals and marshalling yards are located.
Like some other Florida ports, Port Everglades expects to see an increased demanded for imported aggregate materials to serve the area's burgeoning road and building construction. Much of that material now comes from within the state. But permits for the extensive gravel pits, especially in western Miami-Dade County, are getting close to expiration. What's more, many of those facilities are nearly mined out anyway.
Officials from both the ports and construction industries realize that in the near future, most aggregate materials will need to be imported. Allen said much of that aggregate will come from Caribbean islands sources.
Port Everglades already handles considerable cement imports, primarily from Sweden and Turkey. But the aggregate will be a new market, requiring different equipment and coming from a different trade lane.
Allen said preliminary plans call for an underground conveyor system that would move aggregate between vessels and the new rail yard.
There are existing tracks and rail rights-of-way on the port, but those rail spurs would have to be upgraded and rebuilt. The general location, however, would remain the same.
A final version of the port master plan is expected to be sent to the Broward County Commissioners this summer.