Ports across the United States are always active, but they are rarely as busy as they are currently. New project launches have become the norm, and there is an abundance of funding available now and for the next several years for critical infrastructure projects at ports. Because the ports have a tremendous impact on the country’s economy, American ports are continually of high interest at the federal level of government. And port efficiency and competitiveness are often of even greater concern to state leaders where the ports are located.

Some of the types of projects that will launch in the coming months are described here, and it will be difficult to find any port that is not planning some sort of project launch in the coming year.

The Georgia Ports Authority has announced a project to construct a North Georgia inland rail hub designed to relieve congestion and provide more efficiency in moving cargo shipments arriving at the Savannah Port to other parts of the state. Federal authority has been granted, and the project is being prepared for launch. Components of the project will include a new inland port of entry located in the Gainesville-Hall County area. Officials say the objective is for the new rail hub to handle volumes of as many as 60,000 containers per year so that approximately 36 million truck miles on Georgia highways can be eliminated each year. A grant of $46.8 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration will help pay for the port project.

Pixabay port 300x200 Port projects continue to launch throughout the countryThe Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced plans to construct a new bus route directly to LaGuardia Airport for greater efficiency. A dedicated bus lane will be constructed to provide non-stop shuttle service between the airport and the N/W subway line. This will improve service to all three terminals at LaGuardia Airport. The project’s design calls for all-electric buses on the route along with the addition of elevators at the Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard stop. The project carries an overall cost estimate of $500 million, and $30 million was allocated by the port authority so that design work could begin this past month.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance and the Port of Tacoma are both considering a 10-year acceleration of their long-term zero-emissions goals and a partnership may be in the making for a project related to cleaner air. Under consideration is the possibility of pooling resources to purchase and maintain all-electric vehicles and establishing infrastructure that would be required for electric-powered vehicles. No cost estimate has been finalized, but discussions indicate that the cost will fall somewhere between $9 million and $27.8 million.

A concourse modernization project that carries a $255 million projected cost is planned. It will provide benefits for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and the Port of Seattle. This project is just entering the design phase and will be a multi-year effort to refurbish concourses and replace older and outdated equipment. The project will include structural improvements, the enhancement of safety with smoke controls, new lighting, better signage, a sprinkler system, etc. Interested parties should watch for information about the final design work over the next several months.

A Pacific Coast Intermodal project at the Port of Coos Bay in Oregon has been tagged with an overall cost of $1.77 billion. Funding will come from the state and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project will require permitting, environmental and design work before launching because the plan will include modification of the water channel. The Port of Coos Bay will be dredged, deepened and widened to accommodate large container ships. A major overhaul of the rail line is also a critical component of the project. This effort will include replacing some tracks and adding additional sideline areas so trains can pass each other. Train tunnels will be increased to industry standards. Extensive bridge rehabilitation work is also included.

A Port of Oakland project in California is scheduled for 2024 and carries a projected cost of $60 million. The project will include adding electric vehicle chargers at the yard and dockside – essentially adding seven new locations. Solar generation infrastructure will be included along with battery storage. Also included will be substation upgrades for electric grid modernization to accommodate the port’s future needs. Sustainability and protection of the port from unreliable power resources are major objectives of the effort.
North Carolina’s State Port Authority has announced a $22.6 million project scheduled for launch in January 2024. The initiative will be designed to deliver more efficiency in diverting more than 250,000 containers from trucks to rail. This will be a major project for the Port of Wilmington, and it will include a new intermodal facility.

Companies interested in partnering with port authorities are urged to check with the individual states for more information regarding upcoming projects because hundreds of other port projects can be anticipated in 2024.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.