Port Tampa Bay has received $19.8 million in federal funds toward the expansion of its container yard and the construction of a second 1,300-foot berth that will allow it to handle larger container ships.
The US Department of Transportation Infrastructure for Rebuilding American (INFRA) grant will be used to speed the construction of the berth, capable of handling vessels in the 8,500 to 9,500 TEU range, and a 30-acre container yard. The total cost of the project is nearly $55 million.
Tampa has attracted three Asian weekly services in less than three years; the services deploy ships with capacities of about 8,500 TEU.
“This grant, combined with Port Tampa Bay and Florida’s investment, will provide long-term benefits for the logistics supply chain as Florida’s population growth continues,” said Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay CEO, in a statement.
Having a 1,300-foot berth makes it easier for crane operators to offload all the containers without having to maneuver the vessel or stow boxes in a special way to compensate for a shorter berth. The port has one 1,300-foot berth already, known as Berth 213; the funds would be used to build a second of the same size called Berth 214. Existing Berths 210/211 and Berth 212 are shorter.
The port authority said the grant will expand container capacity 60 percent, increase the number of post-Panamax vessels the port can receive, improve efficiency with a state-of-the-art truck gate, and improve rail access.
Tampa’s expansion plans are designed to attract Florida-destined imports that are moving through competing Southeast ports. The I-4 corridor, which runs from Tampa Bay through Orlando to Daytona Beach, is home to nearly 300 distribution centers, including companies such as Publix Super Markets, The Kroger Co., Havertys Furniture, NextEra Energy, Amazon, and Walmart. Port Tampa Bay is less than an hour from those warehouses by truck.