Work begins on deep berth at Seagirt
Workers broke ground Monday on a project to build a 50-foot deep berth at Baltimore's Seagirt container terminal, the Maryland Port Administration said.
Ports America took over operations at the state-owned terminal in January with plans to take full advantage of the opening in 2014 of a new set of locks on the Panama Canal, a development that will likely see bigger ships calling at U.S. East Coast ports.
'A new 50-foot berth is critical to the future of the Port of Baltimore,' Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said at the groundbreaking. 'It will help keep the business we have and allow us to handle the new business that will come aboard the larger ships that are on the horizon. By beginning construction now, we will have this berth up and running in 2012. This is a full two years before the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2014, an expansion that will literally change the face of the maritime shipping business.'
Ports America officials told American Shipper last week they see huge potential for Baltimore as a nexus for mid-Atlantic ocean trade, as routing cargo through Baltimore would eliminate the need to truck it from ports already able to accommodate larger ships — most notably Norfolk.
Ports America signed a 50-year agreement with the MPA. Aside from running the terminal from January, the terminal operator will also invest in other necessary infrastructure at Seagirt, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars it would have had to invest in capital improvements.
Ports America will also make annual payments to the state and provide ongoing revenues to the MPA during the life of the agreement. The Maryland Transportation Authority, as the previous owner of Seagirt, received an immediate payment of more than $100 million that it will invest in the system preservation of its existing road, bridge and tunnel facilities.