As Port Manatee continues to expand, these projects will help keep up with growth

Port Manatee officials often tout the fact that the port is the closest on Tampa Bay to the Panama Canal, and also offers convenient highway connections to Interstate 75 and Interstate 275, as well as Interstate 4.

What isn’t talked about so much is that the road network inside the 1,100-acre port property has been beaten up by years of heavy truck traffic and is overdue for paving improvements.

On Tuesday, the Manatee County Commission, sitting as the Manatee County Port Authority, awarded a $330,212 project to Terracon for professional engineering services for pavement improvements.

Within 180 days of engineering completion, the road project would go to bid for paving, said Dave Sanford, the port’s deputy executive director.

Also approved by the port authority Tuesday was a $373,578 contract to Stantec for engineering services to expand the 10-acre intermodal container yard by 7 1/2 acres.

The port, which has seen a rapid increase in business in recent years, needs the expanded space to handle container cargo and other larger project cargo. The port has an estimated $2.3 billion annual economic impact.

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Refrigerated trailers used to ship perishable cargo are lined up at Port Manatee. Bradenton Herald file photo

The estimated budget for the two projects is $9.25 million. The port operates on revenues that it generates, supplemented by state and federal grants. The port receives no property tax revenue.

The port is investing more than $72 million between now and 2022 on a diverse set of projects to further the port’s ability to handle additional global trade as well as meet future demand for cruise ferry facilities, Carlos Buqueras, the port’s executive director, has previously said.