Ports America won a contract to operate Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal under a 50-year lease that commits the company to build a container berth with 50-foot water depth.
The Maryland Ports Administration announced the long-term lease with Ports America, which has operated Seagirt since the 200-acre terminal opened in 1990. Ports America also has run operations at Baltimore’s Dundalk Marine Terminal since 1966.
The MPA said it will retain ownership of the terminal but that Ports America will provide the Maryland Transportation Authority with an immediate payment of more than $100 million for use on roads, tunnels and bridges.
Ports America also will provide annual lease payments, and the port agency said the agreement is projected to generate $15.7 million a year in state taxes. The MPA said investment in the terminal and revenue to the state could exceed $1.3 billion over the next half century.
The deal gives Ports America full control over operations, the obligation to design and build the new berth within MPA standards, and the right to consolidate all current container business in the port at Seagirt. The MPA said the company will have a known base payment for 50 years and will retain all net revenue.
Ports America will develop the new berth at Seagirt by 2014, the year the Panama Canal is scheduled to open a new set of locks that will accommodate larger container ships. The cost of the berth and four cranes is approximately $105.5 million, the port agency said.
Baltimore port officials hope having 50-foot depth at the new berth will help the port attract calls by the larger ships that will transit the expanded canal. Norfolk also has 50 feet. New York-New Jersey is dredging its channels to 50 feet, but access to some of its terminals will remain limited by the vertical clearance under the Bayonne Bridge.
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