Port seeks $36M stimulus grant

gagostin@bradenton.comSeptember 16, 2009 

PALMETTO — Port Manatee on Tuesday submitted an application to the federal government for $36.1 million in stimulus funds.

The port is pursuing the stimulus money to pay for development related to a marine highway intermodal container terminal at the Palmetto facility, said Steve Tyndal, senior director of trade development.

Port Manatee will learn Feb. 17 whether it will receive the money, which will come from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.

The TIGER grant is money the federal government reserved under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for capital investments in transportation.

If Port Manatee receives the stimulus money, it would help pay for the following: an 32-acre container yard adjacent to Berth 12; a 584-foot extension to Berth 12; a mobile harbor crane to support additional container shipments; and two railroad switch engine locomotives to replace aging equipment.

“With the Manatee County Port Authority’s approval, the standard bidding process would commence as soon as the funds are available, which means that by no later than May 2010,” Tyndal said. “Hopefully, sooner.”

Port Manatee’s application for the TIGER grant received support from the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and Port of Brownsville, Texas.

Port Manatee is extending Berth 12 to 1,584 feet and building two container yards totaling 52 acres to prepare for additional business it will be able to pursue with the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2014.

According to the Sarasota/Manatee MPO, the marine highway intermodal container terminal will create 1,090 jobs from work associated with Port Manatee.

“The success of this important jobs initiative is only possible with the award of a ($36.1 million) TIGER grant for a deserving community, suffering a staggering record-high unemployment rate of 12.2 percent in July 2009,” wrote Michael Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee MPO in a letter addressed to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Port of Brownsville also wrote a letter to LaHood supporting the project, which is associated with the M-10 marine highway, the marine route that parallels the path of Interstate 10 to transport business from Texas to Florida.

Port Manatee’s tenant SeaBridge Freight travels to and from the Port of Brownsville via the M-10 corridor.

“The expanded use of this marine highway corridor will help reduce landside congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use and highway infrastructure dollars spent on construction and maintenance,” said Eduardo Campriano, port director of Port of Brownsville. “More importantly, it helps sustain and create critical jobs by providing the necessary infrastructure needed to expand and encourage additional marine traffic by SeaBridge and others.”

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