Port Manatee has been awarded a $946,950 federal security grant, enabling the Central Florida Gulf Coast port to double the number of outbound lanes at its main gate to securely accommodate increasing cargo volume.
“With Port Manatee’s dynamic growth in containerized cargo activity, having more lanes in place is essential to continuing to meet stringent federal requirements for screening of outbound containers,” Carlos Buqueras, the port’s executive director, said today. “We are extremely grateful for this grant funding – the largest grant for any Tampa Bay port – as it allows us to add two more outbound truck lanes at our main gate, augmenting the two such lanes already in place.”
Port Manatee’s container volume for the first 10 months of the port’s current fiscal year is up 47 percent from the comparable period a year earlier, while the amount of gasoline and related fuels being trucked out of the port is on the rise as well.
David St. Pierre, Port Manatee’s director of seaport security, noted that the funding, through the fiscal 2017 Port Security Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, is to be matched by the port with a 25 percent cost share of $236,737.50.
“In addition to facilitating the outbound lane expansion, the funding allows Port Manatee to enhance its contingent of screening equipment, modernize its main gate intercom system and update credential readers,” St. Pierre said. “These enhancements are all crucial to Port Manatee’s appropriate clearance of shipments, including those moving on an expedited basis under the federal Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism homeland security program.”
Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, underscored the importance of safety and security as Port Manatee volumes climb to record levels.
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.