Jun 19 2012

Shelby: Great News for Port of Mobile

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approved a $12 million TIGER grant to develop Phase 1 of the Garrows Bend Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF).  This transfer facility directly connects containerized imports and exports from the Port of Mobile to major railroad lines across the United States.

As the nation’s 13th largest seaport, the Port of Mobile will benefit greatly from the ICTF.  The project will allow the port to continue to grow and is expected to provide nearly 700 jobs for Alabama.  Further, the project will reduce the cost of imported goods and boost U.S. exports, fostering economic growth across the nation.  Senator Shelby issued the following statement regarding the announcement:

“The Port of Mobile has unlimited potential to facilitate commerce, thereby generating economic growth and creating jobs in Alabama and across the country.  Expanding and enhancing Mobile’s containerized shipping footprint is a critical step in raising the Port’s profile and importance in the global economy.  Increasing the Port’s capacity remains a top priority of mine.  I thank Secretary LaHood for approving this important request and will continue to work to increase the Port of Mobile’s capacity and efficiency.”   

On March 15, 2012, Senator Shelby and the remainder of the Alabama Congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in support of the TIGER grant for the ICTF.  Due to Senator Shelby’s senior position on the Appropriations Committee and on the House/Senate Transportation Conference Committee, Secretary LaHood met with Senator Shelby in his Washington, D.C. office on June 12th .  During the meeting they discussed Senator Shelby’s strong interest in the Port and the merits of the grant request.  On June 18th, Senator Shelby’s office was informed that the Port of Mobile would be awarded the grant.

TIGER grants are discretionary awards made by the U.S. Department of Transportation to state and local governments and transportation agencies for national infrastructure investments.  This grant is not funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The text of the letter of support sent by the Alabama delegation to Secretary LaHood is as follows:

March 15, 2012

We are writing to express the support of the Alabama Congressional delegation for the grant application submitted by the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) for the TIGER Program.

The ASPA is seeking a $14.4 million TIGER grant to develop the Garrows Bend Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF), which will directly connect containerized imports and exports from the Port of Mobile to five Class 1 railroads serving the entire United States.  The ICTF is being constructed on reclaimed land that is currently being prepared for site development. A dedicated roadway will link the ICTF directly with the Mobile Container Terminal, thereby reducing traffic on local streets.  At full build-out, the ICTF will cover 62 acres and feature three working tracks totaling 10,800 linear feet, three support tracks totaling 12,000 linear feet, and a run-around track that will be capable of handling three unit trains a day.

Mobile is the nation’s 13th largest seaport in terms of total tonnage handled, and the ICTF will support and sustain the growth of the port by reducing freight costs to and from industrial and distribution centers located in the Southeast and Midwest.   The ICTF will increase the rail share of containerized freight at the port from zero to 25% over the next decade and connect the entire Appalachian region to import and export markets in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. 

Based on current projections, the intermodal rail facility should handle imports and exports totaling approximately 250,000 units annually.  As a result, completion of this project will reduce the cost of imported goods to American consumers and increase the competitiveness of U.S. exports, including containerized cotton, soybeans, forest products, and automobile components, as well as finished automobiles.  Greater rail connectivity will allow the Port of Mobile to continue its path of economic and employment growth, creating an estimated 684 jobs, including 322 direct jobs.  At the same time, the project will preserve the quality of life and livability of surrounding communities and reduce heavy truck traffic on local, state and national roadways.

This grant will be matched with $14.4 million in ASPA funds and will fund Phase 1 of the ICTF project, which represents about 50% of full build-out.  Utilizing the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approved methodology for calculating project benefits, the ASPA’s TIGER IV application conservatively calculated a 1.6 benefit/cost ratio for the project.  This kind of return on investment, coupled with jobs creation will provide U.S. manufacturers and shippers with efficient and cost competitive transportation infrastructure to boost U.S. exports. 

We urge your full consideration of this meritorious application, and look forward to receiving a favorable response.