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Ports benefit from more than $241 million in federal grants

‘These investments will support the shift to cleaner transportation, which will create more economic activity and good-paying jobs’

Twenty-five port projects in 19 states got an early Christmas present last week in the form of grant money through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program.

The federal government awarded more than $241 million in grant funding to both inland river and coastal ports and the Great Lakes ports, according to a Thursday release. Among the priorities of this year’s funding round were those related to job creation, climate change and environmental justice impacts. 

The funding announcement follows an update earlier in the week from President Joe Biden’s Supply Chain Task Force on supply chain flows.

The grant program itself has been running for three years, awarding $492 million for 32 projects in its first two years. What’s more, the recently passed infrastructure bill has enabled $450 million in annual funding for fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for a total of $2.25 billion.

“These investments will support the shift to cleaner transportation, which will create more economic activity and good-paying jobs,” said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “The Port Infrastructure Development Program is an important part of building back better for our ports, our communities, our economy and our people.”

Ten port projects were awarded grants of more than $5 million each. The remaining 15 project awards went to smaller ports.

The full list of awardees is available here. Below are the 10 large project awards:

America’s Green Gateway phase 1: Pier B rail enhancements, Long Beach, California, $52.3 million.

The project has three components: a new locomotive facility, an extension of the east rail yard and an extension of the west rail yard. Overall, the project will add a 10,000-foot support track, construct a support facility for 24 locomotives, add three yard tracks and extend five existing tracks to increase operational efficiency for port cargo and enhance safety for rail workers, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday.

According to the Port of Long Beach’s promotional video for the Pier B on-dock rail project, the support facility would enable the configuration of freight trains as long as 2 miles. Having the facility would also increase cargo movement in and out of the port by rail from 28% to 35%. 

Construction is expected to begin in 2023, with the first arrival, departure and storage tracks expected to be completed in 2025. More tracks will come online in 2030, and the project is slated for completion in 2032.

Offshore wind tower manufacturing port project, Albany, New York, $29.5 millon.

The project aims to develop an offshore wind tower manufacturing port at the Port of Albany. The project itself will be developed on 81 acres along the Hudson River immediately south of the existing port district. The infrastructure will include an access bridge and connector roadway, internal roads, utility site work and infrastructure, upland preparation, berth dredging and 500 linear feet of 6,000-pound-per-square-foot heavy capacity wharf construction.

South Brooklyn Marine Terminal 35th Street Pier expansion project, New York City $25 million.

The project will add a barge berth and an additional crane pad on the western end of the 35th Street Pier of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, DOT said. The wharf will be designed to accommodate 400-foot-long barges, the agency said.

Portsmouth Marine Terminal offshore wind development, Portsmouth, Virginia, $20 million.

The project aims to develop at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal a staging area that would support offshore wind projects. The staging area would be adjacent to one of the wharves, with a second storage area that would store monopolies and other project components, according to DOT. 

Bayport Container Terminal Expansion, Houston, $18.3 million.

The project aims to develop Container Yard 1 South, a 39-acre green space at the Port of Houston’s Bayport Container Terminal. The grant will help fund site preparation, grading, drainage, utilities, concrete surfaces suitable for the storage of containers, signage, electrical, lighting and communications. 

Off-dock container support facility, Tacoma, Washington, $15.7 million.

The Port of Tacoma aims to develop an off-dock container support facility that will provide space to store empty containers and chassis in order to free up dockside space at the terminals. The project is part of the port’s capital improvement program to modernize and optimize the use of its container terminals and support facilities, DOT said. The facility will be located on 24.5 acres of land adjacent to the Husky, West Sitcum and Washington United terminals. Work includes new gates, a guard shelter, perimeter security fencing, energy-efficient lighting fixtures, stormwater system improvements and refurbishment of a railroad crossing adjacent to the site, DOT said.

Colonel’s Island berth No. 4, Garden City, Georgia, $14.6 million.

The Port of Brunswick’s Colonel’s Island Terminal will use the grant to construct a fourth roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) vessel berth so that the terminal can accommodate the larger 7,000-plus-unit vehicle carrier vessels that are becoming the industry standard for ro-ro ships. DOT says Brunswick is the nation’s second-busiest ro-ro cargo port.

Pier 15 rehabilitation and enhancement, San Juan, Puerto Rico, $10 million.

The Port of San Juan is reconstructing the tender pier and dock B in the Pier 15 area, which had sustained damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The grant will also fund design and construction of an outfitting pier to enhance ro-ro operations at Pier 15. The Pier 15 area supports vessels that transport cargo between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, islands in the Lesser Antilles and ports along the east coast of the United States, DOT said.

Infrastructure improvements project, Superior, Wisconsin, $8.4 million.

The Port of Duluth-Superior will repair an unutilized facility and construct a sheet pile retaining wall and place tremie concrete behind the new wall to create a load-bearing surface as well as install a concrete cap atop the new wall. Improvements also include rail and road work, a stormwater management system, utilities, a shop and office building, and dredging.

Powering the Future Project, Oakland, California, $5.2 million.

The project replaces an existing electrical substation and circuit located within the Port of Oakland, DOT said. The project will also include an on-site fuel cell facility and a solar array with battery storage and establish a direct connection between the port’s substation and the local electric utility’s biomass-fuel generator.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.