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Friday, December 29, 2017

Mobile port, APM expand container facility

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APM Terminals facility at the Port of Mobile. APM Terminals facility at the Port of Mobile. Alabama State Port Authority

The Alabama State Port Authority and APM Terminals boards of directors in separate actions have approved a $49.5-million expansion of the container facility at the Port of Mobile.

The port and APM, a unit of Maersk of Denmark, jointly will deliver a Phase 3 expansion that includes a dock extension and an additional 20 acres of improved yard to maintain excess capacity to accommodate new business opportunities. When completed, the project will accommodate an annual throughput capacity of 650,000 TEUs.

The project will also complement the recently completed Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, which is accessible by five Class I railroads, including Canadian National, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern and BNSF. Currently, Canadian National provides intermodal rail service to U.S. Midwest and Canadian markets.

“The Phase 3 expansion enables us to stay well ahead of the growth pattern we’ve seen in the Port of Mobile, as well as add dock space to support the growing vessel sizes that are coming to the terminal,” said Brian Harold, managing director for APM Terminals Mobile. “It will help us maintain the efficiency levels our customers have come to expect, while also creating the extra capacity needed to support potential future economic growth in our market.”

Phase 3 is part of a five-phase, long-term plan that can grow the terminal’s annual throughput capacity to 1.5 million TEUs. Under the Phase 3 development, a 400-foot dock extension, super Post-Panamax crane rails and upgrades to the fender system will accommodate 14,000 TEU ships, the largest now transiting the Panama Canal. The 20-acre yard expansion ensures excess capacity at the terminal to accommodate new shipper and carrier business opportunities.

The dock extension will take approximately 24 months to complete, while the yard will take 18 months to complete. When completed, Phase 3 will complement the recently commissioned Phase II investments that delivered 20 acres and installed two new super Post-Panamax cranes to serve new business through the terminal, including containers bound for Walmart’s 2.6 million-square-foot import distribution center at Mobile.

“Container intermodal growth continues to drive investment at the Port of Mobile,” said James K. Lyons, chief executive of the Alabama State Port Authority. Since 2005, the Port Authority and its partners have invested $535 million in shore-side and channel improvements to support larger ships. “These prior investments have competitively positioned the port and established Mobile as an alternate gateway for U.S. trade. This expansion and our planned harbor deepening and widening program will provide both shippers and carriers with a cost-effective, customer service- oriented option.” added Lyons.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers harbor modernization study is underway with a record of decision expected by year-end 2019.