Senate candidate tours Sparrows Point
U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8), who is running for Senate, toured Sparrows Point on Oct. 20 to learn more about the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site.
Representatives from site owner Tradepoint Atlantic briefed Van Hollen on the redevelopment plans and gave him a tour of the site.
“A lot of exciting things are happening here to bring back jobs to this area,” Van Hollen said. “Looking for innovative ways to use this iconic piece of land for a new generation of jobs.”
“There were a couple of ideas that were raised here [to promote development,” Van Hollen said. “TIGER grants would be one. The other would be the Howard Street Tunnel which benefits, obviously, the Port [of Baltimore] as well as activity here, because by allowing double stacking, you make room — literally make room — for more business in and out of Tradepoint.”
Tradepoint Atlantic is hoping to make substantial profit from its use as a distribution hub.
The site features 3,100 acres of industrial zoned land, deep water access for boats and access to two Class I railroads with 100 miles of onsite track, as well as direct access to I-695 and the I-95 and I-70 corridors. Through these connective channels, Tradepoint can reach 30 percent of the U.S. population in a one-day drive.
“The whole transportation grid is obviously a really important piece,” Van Hollen said, praising the site’s connectivity. “That’s why the TIGER grant is something they’re developing now. That sounds like a work in progress, but the Howard Street Tunnel is something where we’ve put forward a proposal for what’s called a FASTLANE grant. We’re going to vigorously pursue that. That’s really essential to job growth here and at the port.”
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants are provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund innovative infrastructure programs that support economic development.
Tradepoint officials are considering a TIGER grant proposal in 2017, but details are “not fully defined,” said Aaron Tomarchio, a company spokesperson.
Van Hollen said a proposal has been submitted for a FASTLANE grant that would expand the Howard Street Tunnel to allow double-stack trains to pass through. The Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program was started by the U.S. Department of Transportation to address America’s infrastructure.
The Sparrows Point site is projected to become a new employment center as it continues to be developed. According to Tomarchio, more than 700 employees work at the site. Collectively, they were paid more than $50 million in the past two years. The redevelopment will create 10,000 permanent jobs and 13,000 construction jobs.
Companies that have recently signed leases at Tradepoint include Under Armour, FedEx, Pasha Automotive Services, Harley-Davidson, and Atlantic Forest Products. Under Armour will bring 1,000 jobs to the site. FedEx will open in the spring.
The northern portion of the 3,100 acre site will be developed for retail. Tomarchio said that nearby communities are “underserved” by retail and that employers looking to locate at Sparrows Point would want retail businesses to provide amenities for employees.
Reporter Virginia Terhune contributed to this report. Follow me on Twitter
U.S. Rep Chris Van Hollen (center) toured the Sparrows Point site’s marine terminal with (from left) Tradepoint officials Aaron Tomarchio and Michael Pedone.