The Canadian government will fund two projects to boost capacity at the Port of Halifax and reduce trucking traffic in the eastern Canadian city’s downtown.
The C$47.5 million investment (a Canadian dollar equals US$0.74), announced on June 3, will allow more cargo to transfer via rail from the South End (Halterm) to the Fairview Cove container terminal, about six miles away. The funding will also go toward improving road infrastructure.
“We are supporting projects to efficiently move goods to market and people to their destinations, stimulate economic growth, create quality middle-class jobs and ensure that Canada’s transportation networks remain competitive and efficient,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said while visiting the city.
The project will use an existing rail line and add four new rail-mounted cranes to the terminals. Trucks will then be able to collect their cargo at a designated collection center near Fairview Cove, instead of traveling through downtown Halifax to reach South End. A timetable for completion hasn’t been released.
More than 60 percent of Halifax’s cargo ends up going on rail via Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI), which has an intermodal terminal. Trucking remains a vital part of the port’s operations, particularly for local and regional deliveries.
Port: Changes will give trucks more moves per day
Combined with improved road infrastructure, the newly funded projects should make trucking operations simpler and more efficient, said Lane Farguson, Halifax Port Authority spokesperson.
“We hope this will give them the ability to increase the number of moves per day – with less time being stuck in traffic,” Farguson said.
At peak times as many as 500 trucks may be going in and out of the South End terminal, leading to long traffic jams.
Some members of the industry have voiced weariness that the added rail leg could bring additional delays. Farguson said he understands the concerns, but that the port would be working to ensure trucking operations will be faster and smoother.
Halifax residents, however, will likely welcome to the reduction in truck traffic in downtown.
“As a city planner and Halifax resident, getting trucks off the downtown streets has long been a priority for me and for most Haligonians,” said federal Member of Parliament Andy Fillmore, who represents Halifax.
The Port of Halifax handled nearly 550,000 twenty-foot equivalent units and 4.8 million metric tons in 2018, as growth stalled following a record 2017. It is unclear how much capacity the new projects are expected to add, though the port has plans to accommodate larger vessels.
Singapore-based PSA International is in the process of acquiring South End, Halifax’s largest container terminal, from Australia’s Macquarie Group.
The Canadian government is funding Halifax projects as part of its C$2 billion infrastructure upgrades. Those include C$800 million to address supply chain performance and capacity constraints.