PORT MANATEE -- A Texas marine construction company will rebuild one of Port Manatee's aging ship berths for $9.14 million as part of the ports continuing waterfront modernization program.
This week, the proposal for the work submitted by Orion Marine Construction of Houston won a seven-way bid contest to reconstruct Berth 9 at Port Manatee. Its bid came in well below an construction cost of $12.2 million initially estimated by project designer AECOM.
Members of the Manatee County Port Authority unanimously approved Orion's bid Thursday. Construction work is expected to begin in January. A projected 400-day construction schedule has the facility reopening in 2017.
The berth is one of six scheduled for reconstruction. The total scope of work is expected to cost about $60 million.
Carlos Buqueras, the port's executive director, said the berths need to be rebuilt to handle more cargo weight as the port grows its business. Constructed more than four decades ago, Berth 9 was designed to handle loads of 600 pounds per square foot. Once rebuilt, it will handle as much as 1,000 pounds per square foot, according to George Isiminger, the port's senior planning director.
Buqueras said port administration was "pleasantly surprised" to see Orion's bid come in lower than the AECOM estimate.
"With the price of cement going up and commodities gaining cost, I think that it was a very beneficial quote," he said.
With the expansion of the Panama Canal ongoing, larger cargo ships are expected to start docking at the port in coming years. The port plans to deepen the sea floor in its shipping channels and at its berths from the present 40 feet to 45 to accommodate those vessels. It has received $100,000 in federal funds in 2014 to study the work and is pursuing another $700,000.
The port operates 10 shipping berths. One, Berth 14, was recently rebuilt and was recommissioned this year. The others are as old as 50 years.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twittercface fontname="Roman" naxe="0" iaxis="0"/>