U.S grant funds will support $19.7 million expansion of port's multimodal infrastructure
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has recommended to Congress that the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor receive one of 10 FASTLANE small project grants for 2017. The $9.85 million discretionary grant is part of a $19.7 million expansion of the port's infrastructure that will increase cargo handling capacity and multimodal capabilities for the Lake Michigan port. The grants are now subject to a 60-day review period in which Congress could vote to disapprove any of the projects it finds objectionable. A total of $850 million was made available under the FASTLANE program, also called the INFRA grant funds program, and $79 million was recommended for awards to small project grants.
"Indiana has one of the premier inland ports systems in North America. This project will increase our state's ability to attract and grow multimodal business in Northwest Indiana," said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. "Our Lake Michigan port provides critical access to ocean vessels, Great Lakes ships and river barges that connect Indiana companies to the world. Further investment into this port will only strengthen the tremendous economic impact it generates for our state each year."
The port's grant would provide partial funding for $19.7 million in infrastructure enhancements, including the construction of a new 2.3-acre cargo terminal with multimodal connections for handling cargo transfers between ships, barges, rail cars and trucks. In addition, 4.4 miles will be added to the port's existing 14-mile rail network. Two new rail yards will create rail storage for 165 rail cars, accommodate a 90-car unit train and provide rail car switching within the port, which will improve operating efficiencies for port companies. Improvements to the west dock, including extending a retaining wall and paving a dock apron, will result in an additional 1,200 feet of usable dock space. The project scope also includes a new six-acre truck marshalling yard that will relieve congestion along port roads.
"These investments in Northwest Indiana will allow the Port of Indiana to increase its multimodal freight-handling capabilities to help meet anticipated future demand," said Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper. "Our port companies and stevedores will benefit tremendously with this significant new infrastructure investment that will enhance productivity and efficiency for those who rely on the port's water, rail and highway connections. Our Portage port is regarded as one of the premier ports on all of the Great Lakes because of our continued re-investments into the facility. This grant will permit us to further accelerate our investments to help attract new companies and new cargoes to the region."
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled nearly 2.6 million tons of cargo in 2016, completing the highest three-year total in the port's history. Ship traffic through the port was up 14 percent for the first six months of 2017, compared to the same time period last year. Port operations generate an economic impact of $4.9 billion per year and support over 39,000 total jobs.