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March 2 2020

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40 The Journal of Commerce | March 2 2020 www.joc.com International Maritime Competitive dredge Southeast, Gulf Coast ports win federal funding to improve access for larger vessels By Ari Ashe and Hugh R. Morley THE PORTS OF Savannah, Charleston, Jacksonville, and Houston have been awarded more than $260 million in federal grants that will help fund projects to allow them to handle larger container ships. Savannah and Charleston have received a combined $55 million in funding to make critical berth upgrades to handle post-Panamax vessels, while President Donald Trump has earmarked $93.6 million in his 2021 budget proposal to com- plete deepening of the Savannah Harbor. Improvements will allow the berths to handle 14,000-TEU vessels. The Port of Jacksonville has se- cured $93 million in federal funding to help pay for the $484 million project to deepen its harbor to han- dle post-Panamax vessels. And the Port of Houston has won a federal grant of $21.8 million to help fund a 20 percent increase in berth space that would enable Bayport Container Terminal to han- dle cargo volume growth that has risen by double-digit percentages in recent years. Proceeding in tandem The US Department of Trans- portation (DOT) in early February announced that Savannah will receive $34.6 million for Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal. Berth 1 is the oldest in the terminal and can only handle small vessels. The reconstruction project, due to be completed in 2023, will allow the berth to handle post-Panamax vessels; three other berths at the Garden City Terminal already handle vessels of that size. One day earlier, PresidentTrump allocated $93.6 million in his fiscal 2021 budget to finish the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which will deepen the harbor from 42 to 47 feet. Griff Lynch, CEO of Georgia Ports Authority, said he anticipates the dredging work will be finished in late 2021. "Although we haven't done a big infrastructure package, if you put all these things together, like the $93.6 million for the dredging and the $34.6 million in this grant, this is infrastructure, so even though we don't have one big bill, we are doing bits and pieces of it, and that's important," US Rep. Buddy Carter, a Republican whose district includes Savannah, said in a statement. The South Carolina Ports Author- ity (SCPA) received $20 million from the DOT for the Charleston berth improvements. The SCPA will con- tribute another $13 million, bringing the total to $33 million. The money will be used to build toe walls to restrain soil, maintain a stable slope beneath the wharf, and provide an edge for berth deepening to enable future maintenance dredging. "The construction of the toe wall and deepening of the three berths at Wando Welch Terminal must be completed in conjunction with the deepening project to realize the full benefits of achieving 52 feet of depth," Barbara Melvin, the SCPA's chief operating officer, said in a state- ment. "This work will ensure the mega container ships calling on the Port of Charleston can seamlessly access Wando Welch Terminal." The federal government in December appropriated the final tranche of funds for the harbor deepening, which will take the depth to 52 feet when completed in 2022. The Wando Welch Terminal eventually will have 15 cranes of 155 feet of lift height by late 2021, which is necessary given how ocean carri- ers stack containers on a vessel. That would allow Charleston to simulta- neously discharge three 14,000-TEU vessels with five cranes per vessel. Keeping pace In Northeast Florida, the US Army Corps of Engineers awarded $57.5 million to a project that will "This is infrastructure, so even though we don't have one big bill, we are doing bits and pieces of it, and that's important." Importing & Exporting | Ports | Carriers | Breakbulk | Global Logistics

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