Port gets $6.6 mil­lion fed­eral grant

Money will be used to con­struct ad­di­tional 50-foot-deep berth

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Pamela Wood

The Port of Bal­ti­more is get­ting a nearly $6.6 mil­lion fed­eral grant to build an ad­di­tional 50-foot-deep berth to ac­com­mo­date large con­tainer ships.

“The more cargo, the more money we make and the more jobs we cre­ate,” said U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Rup­pers­berger, whose dis­trict in­cludes the port. “This is re­ally go­ing to help the port.”

Rup­pers­berger said he re­ceived a call Thurs­day from the deputy sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion, no­ti­fy­ing him that the Mary­land Port Ad­min­is­tra­tion would be awarded a grant through the BUILD — Bet­ter Uti­liz­ing In­vest­ments to Lever­age De­vel­op­ment — pro­gram.

The port ad­min­is­tra­tion had ap­plied for an $8 mil­lion grant to ex­pand one of the berths at the Sea­girt Ma­rine Ter­mi­nal from 45 feet to 50 feet, and was awarded $6,554,575 mil­lion.

The to­tal cost of the pro­ject will be $32.7 mil­lion. The state will con­trib­ute $7.8 mil­lion, and Ports Amer­ica, the com­pany with a long-term con­tract to op­er­ate the port, will con­trib­ute $18.4 mil­lion.

Con­struc­tion on the berth ex­pan­sion is sched­uled to be­gin in late 2019 and is ex­pected to last about one year.

Sea­girt al­ready has one 50-foot­deep berth, which “has been ap­peal­ing to ocean car­ri­ers,” Mary­land’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion wrote in a let­ter sup­port­ing the grant ap­pli­ca­tion. That berth and four new cranes went into ser­vice in 2013.

“As all ves­sels con­tinue to grow in size, the Port of Bal­ti­more will face berth con­straints and will soon be ex­cluded from con­tin­ued in­ter­na­tional trade growth un­less it can pro­vide more than one deep-draft berth and ad­di­tional cranes,” the del­e­ga­tion wrote.

Rup­pers­berger said the del­e­ga­tion was suc­cess­ful in ar­gu­ing that cre­at­ing a sec­ond 50-foot berth would fa­cil­i­tate in­creased busi­ness at the port, which in turn leads to more jobs and money.

“These funds will ex­pand the Port’s ca­pac­ity, spurring eco­nomic growth and cre­at­ing more good­pay­ing jobs across Bal­ti­more and the state,” said Demo­cratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who backed the pro­ject. “The Port of Bal­ti­more con­nects the Mary­land econ­omy with busi­nesses and op­por­tu­ni­ties across the globe.”

Rup­pers­berger said with so much par­ti­san­ship in Wash­ing­ton, he was glad the del­e­ga­tion could de­liver fed­eral as­sis­tance to a wor­thy lo­cal pro­ject.

“When you can bring home the ba­con to your dis­trict, this is what I think tax­pay­ers want us to do,” said Rup­pers­berger, a Bal­ti­more County Demo­crat.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate Sec­re­tary (Elaine) Chao work­ing with us on this im­por­tant is­sue,” the Mary­land law­mak­ers wrote in a state­ment Thurs­day. “Team Mary­land stands united to use ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to en­sure these kind of in­vest­ments in Mary­land’s econ­omy con­tinue through the next Congress.”

In ad­di­tion to the grant to the port, Mary­land also landed a $20 mil­lion BUILD grant to add an in­ter­change on In­ter­state 95 in the Port Deposit area of Ce­cil County. The in­ter­change at Belvidere Road would be near a busi­ness park and would im­prove truck traf­fic in the area, ac­cord­ing to the gover­nor’s of­fice.

“These projects will sup­port thou­sands of new jobs and spur eco­nomic growth and de­vel­op­ment in ev­ery cor­ner of our state,” Gov. Larry Ho­gan said in a state­ment.

This is the sec­ond time this year the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has given a sig­nif­i­cant trans­porta­tion grant in the Bal­ti­more area.

Ear­lier this year, the fed­eral gov­er­ment awarded $20 mil­lion to Bal­ti­more County and Trade­point At­lantic for up­grad­ing the com­pany’s port fa­cil­i­ties in Spar­rows Point. Trade­point is re­de­vel­op­ing a for­mer steel mill site into an in­dus­trial, lo­gis­tics and man­u­fac­tur­ing hub.

While Trade­point al­ready has some ship­ping ac­tiv­ity, com­pany of­fi­cials have said the prop­erty’s port was long ne­glected dur­ing the de­cline of the steel mill and is in need of an up­grade. Trade­point also is plan­ning to dredge its ap­proach chan­nels and basin to ac­com­mo­date larger ships.

The grant to Trade­point came through the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s pre­de­ces­sor to BUILD, known as Trans­porta­tion In­vest­ment Gen­er­at­ing Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery, or TIGER.

JERRY JACK­SON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

An ex­panded berth at the Port of Bal­ti­more will al­low more ac­cess to ships like the Gunde Maersk, which has a ca­pac­ity to han­dle 11,000 twenty-foot equiv­a­lent (TEU) con­tain­ers.

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