Intermodal Briefs: HCPHC, Port of Toronto, GPA

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (HCPHC) receives $7.32 million in funding for Phase 1 of the Port Bienville Intermodal Expansion Project. Also, the Port of Toronto has a strong 2023; and the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) approves funding for Brunswick Harbor improvements.


HCPHC on March 26 announced that it has been awarded $7.32 million in Transportation-Housing & Urban Development funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) as part of the FY24 appropriations bill. This significant funding, HCPHC says, is specifically designed for the Port Bienville Railroad Intermodal Expansion Project

The Port Bienville Intermodal Expansion Project, with a total budget of $25.4 million, “is a critical initiative aimed at enhancing rail infrastructure and addressing key challenges faced by the Port Bienville Railroad (PBVR) and existing industries,” according to HCPHC. The project comprises two distinct phases:

  • Phase 1 ($14.6 million): Construction of a seven-track classification yard. This yard will significantly increase rail storage capacity, accommodating an additional 220 railcars. The increased capacity will allow the PBVR to better serve its existing tenants and create opportunities for future developments in regional transient storage or new industry.
  • Phase 2 ($10.8 million): Development of a truck-to-rail intermodal facility. This phase will connect trucking operations to the rail network, enhance efficiency and promote multimodal transportation options in the region.

HCPHC has received full funding to build Phase 1 with previous awards totaling $3.7 million from RESTORE Act and MS Department of Transportation Multi-Modal announcements in 2022.

The Port Bienville Intermodal Project was designed to address two significant challenges faced by the PBVR. First, it addresses the storage capacity issue, HCPHC said.

Currently, the PBVR operates nearly 600 railcars on average, exceeding its rated capacity of 450 railcars. The Intermodal Project, HCPHC says, “will significantly increase operational capacity by approximately 78%, accommodating more than 800 railcars by 2027.”

Second, the project aims to resolve the lack of true intermodal switching capability at Port Bienville Industrial Park. By efficiently connecting trucking operations to the PBVR rail network, the project will “enhance regional logistic efficiency and promote multimodal options on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

“The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission continues to prioritize strategic investments in our infrastructure that support existing industry and develop capacity for new industry in Port Bienville,” said HCPHC Executive Director Blaine LaFontaine. “The project is proceeding with engineering and environmental processes, and we plan to see construction begin in 2026.”

Port of Toronto

The Port of Toronto recently announced that it had another strong year in 2023, moving 2.3 million metric tons of bulk and general cargo products and welcoming a record 45 cruise ships and nearly 18,000 visitors to Toronto.

The Port of Toronto’s consecutive year of strong performance in marine imports and cruise ship activity “highlights the important role the Port plays in Toronto’s economy for tourism, trade and construction,” the Port stated in a release.

Overall, 189 cargo vessels visited the Port of Toronto in 2023, delivering a range of bulk, project and general cargo products totaling 2,311,616 million metric tons. In addition, 2023 was the second consecutive record year for the Port of Toronto’s Cruise Ship Terminal business. The year 2024, the Port says, will usher in another strong cruise ship season, with 36 ships expected to call between May and October, bringing nearly 18,000 passengers to Toronto to enjoy all the city has to offer.


GPA on March 26 announced that it has approved contracts totaling $65.6 million for container yard work at the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal, a 200-acre facility just downriver from GPA’s main container port.

“We’re very pleased with the progress on improving Ocean Terminal’s container handling capability,” said GPA President and CEO Griff Lynch. “We’re on track to see greater container capacity by late 2027.”

On Tuesday, the board approved three project components, including earth compacting to prepare the site to hold container stacks, removal of a former bridge pier and preliminary utility installation behind the wharf structure.

The work will be funded through revenue bonds GPA issued in 2022.

Previously approved upgrades at Ocean Terminal include the purchase of eight ship-to-shore cranes, refurbishing the wharf structure, and construction of an overpass for direct access to U.S. 17. When all work is complete, GPA says Ocean Terminal’s annual capacity will grow from 300,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) to more than 1.5 million.

“At Georgia Ports, we never stop investing in the future,” said GPA Board Chairman Kent Fountain. “As new and existing port users grow their trade through our terminals, we’re ready to take on additional cargo, providing the world-class service that our customers have come to expect.”

Lynch reported to the board that GPA anticipates a third straight month of growth in March.

“I’d like to thank our local partners in the International Longshoremen’s Association and Gateway Terminals, along with our GPA employees for their work moving cargo across our docks with efficient, reliable service,” Lynch said. “With a positive showing in the calendar year to date, Savannah is building momentum toward a stronger second half of Fiscal Year 2024.”

More information on recent developments in infrastructure projects is available here.

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