SeaPort Manatee has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $12 million to advance a 16.56-acre expansion of container yard facilities at the thriving Florida Gulf Coast trade gateway, as announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The critical SeaPort Manatee undertaking is one of 26 projects for which a total of $1.5 billion in Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant funding was announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who characterized the grants as “transformative investments.”
At SeaPort Manatee, the federal investment of $11,953,492 is to be used toward design and construction of 16.56 acres of additional cargo-handling space and a new container yard access road, as well as for installation of electrical systems for two new mobile harbor cranes that arrived at the port in April. The INFRA money is being augmented by state and local funds, including equal sums of $2,147,650 each from a Florida Department of Transportation grant and from SeaPort Manatee revenue.
SeaPort Manatee can now proceed to solicit bids for the expansion project, with an eye toward commencing construction in 2023 and completing the work in 2025.
This latest phase of expansion is to augment 18 acres of container yard already completed adjacent to SeaPort Manatee’s berths 12 and 14, plus 6.62 more acres under construction slated for mid-2023 completion. The earlier phases of the endeavor have moved forward thanks to federal, state and local funding totaling more than $18 million.
“SeaPort Manatee is extremely grateful to the USDOT and FDOT for their support of this crucial project, which should furnish sufficient cargo-handling capacity to accommodate burgeoning activity at the seaport through approximately 2041,” said Carlos Buqueras, SeaPort Manatee’s executive director, who noted that containerized cargo tonnage soared by more than 32 percent in the six-month period ended March 31 over the comparable year-earlier fiscal half. “Cargo volumes are projected to continue to rise as SeaPort Manatee flourishes as a vital supply chain gateway for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.”
Reggie Bellamy, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority, citing a benefit-to-cost ratio of more than 25-to-1 for the expansion project, commented, “We are very appreciative of this federal funding for delivery of modern infrastructure for safe, efficient movement of increasing levels of cargo while delivering significant local, regional and national economic benefits.”
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” SeaPort Manatee is a dynamic global trade hub, serving as the vibrant ships-to-shelves gateway for burgeoning Southwest and Central Florida markets. The closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, SeaPort Manatee offers 10 deep-draft berths, proficiently fulfilling diverse demands of container, liquid and dry bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $5.1 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 37,000 direct and indirect jobs – all without benefit of local property tax support.