Construction is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks on a $1.5 million upgrading project for Alabama State Docks' public grain elevator.
The project is the first part of a six-phase master renovation plan - estimated to cost $10 million - the port is undertaking. The 4-month-long first phase of the renovation will include installation of dust-control systems and updating the elevator's reclaim conveyer system with chain-type drag conveyers."Cost-cutting efforts in other areas of the Docks operation have provided funding for this project," said John Dutton, Alabama State Docks director. ''We hope these technological improvements will not only provide a workplace with improved safety conditions and air quality, but will attract new customers."
The elevator, parts of which were built 10 and 15 years ago, has become outdated by major advances in grain-handling technology in recent years. The upgrading will more than triple the 400 tons a hour the elevator can now directly transfer, said Hal Hudgins, manager of grain marketing and operations at the port.
"The direct transfer system will allow us to bypass the silos as we move grain direct from railcars to ships," Mr. Hudgins said.
During the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 1991, Alabama State Docks handled some 260,000 tons of grain, most of which was wheat. The 1991 tally was 12 percent below the total for 1990 after bad weather destroyed the Southern soybean crop.
The public grain elevator includes four bottom hopper rail dumpers, two rail-mounted ship loaders, two truck dumpers with elevating legs, three shipping systems and an 800-foot-long berth that accommodates vessels up to 1,000 feet long.
Construction of the improvements will be handled by Davco Inc. of Memphis. Davco built the elevator's north headhouse in 1980.