Construction on the Port of Mobile’s new Choctaw Point container terminal (CPT) will begin in 2005 with creation of 87 acres of container yard 1000 feet of wharf and dredging the adjacent berth to 42 feet cutting back 264 feet from the 45-foot federal navigation channel in the Mobile River.
The CPT is a project of the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA).
The initial dredging will cost $2652636 and involve removing 230664 cubic yards of material. Due to the quantity of material to be dredged the ASPA anticipates that clamshell or cutterhead dredging will be used once contracts are let in January 2005.
Dredged material will be placed in existing sites around the Port of Mobile and fill necessary to create the project will be suitable dry material from these sites.
For fiscal year 2005 $60.5 million has been allocated for engineering design and construction of the wharf and terminal and associated rail mitigation and public access features. The dredging contract is a part of this figure.
The completed terminal will include 2000 feet of wharf 120 acres of container yard provision for six gantry cranes and a 77-acre intermodal transfer terminal connected to the container terminal by feeder roads. Completion is scheduled for 2007.
The comment period for the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) ended on October 4 and the Corps of Engineers is in the process of compiling their Record of Decision (ROD). The FEIS is posted on the website of the Alabama State Port Authority (www.asdd.com)
The first dredging contract will be advertised as soon as the ROD is complete expected by the end of this year.
The port has already begun work that does not require a permit including preparing the land for construction by demolishing a tank farm and warehouses. Additionally the ASPA has been cleaning up environmental contamination on the site created by a wood treatment plant that occupied part of the property. That cleanup is now in its final stage. The design for the dredging project was included in an engineering design contract that has been completed and the dredging project will be advertised after the Corps of Engineers issues the permit.
The remaining 1000 feet of wharf and associated dredging is expected to begin upon the completion of the first 1000 feet of wharf.
The CPT berth bulkheads and infrastructure will be built to design depths of 52 feet in anticipation of possible future deepening. The federal channel is authorized to 55 feet though the present 40 feet is sufficient for the vessels operating today in the Gulf of Mexico. The ASPA is requesting that the Corps of Engineers provide funding in their fiscal year 2006 budget to extend the 45-foot federal navigation channel 2100 feet to the north to provide 45-foot channel depth for the Choctaw Terminal project. Federal funding for the extension resided in the Corps fiscal year 2004 budget but cost share constraints postponed the project. The ASPA is the co-sponsor of the federal water projects with a 35 percent cost share responsibility.
An on-terminal grade-separated roadway will connect the container yard with the intermodal yard and adjacent value-added warehousing and distribution area. The intermodal terminal will comprise approximately 77 acres and will accommodate unit container trains that will pick up or off-load containers from the marine terminal and value-added development areas. Trains up to 10000 feet long will be able to serve the intermodal terminal without blocking rail traffic on the main line. The terminal will offer an efficient and cost effective transfer point for containers from the Choctaw Point Terminal to the five Class I railroads without interruption to rail services into the adjacent McDuffie coal terminal.
The CPT facility will be adjacent to McDuffie Island at the mouth of the Mobile River which was connected to the mainland in the 1970’s by a land bridge for access via Yeend Street. McDuffie Island houses the ASPA’s largest coal terminal an idle DRI (iron ore reduction) plant and the city’s sewage treatment plant.
The Choctaw Point terminal will be positioned on the mainland and encompass the waterway north of the land bridge once used as a slip by a DRI plant . The slip will be filled in by suitable material from the port’s dredge disposal areas and the reclaimed land will become part of the container terminal.
Port officials hope that the flow of containers through the marine terminal and intermodal terminal will encourage businesses to locate their facilities in the value-added warehousing and distribution area. The growth of these operations is vital to the continued development of Alabama’s seaport according to a Port Authority press release.
A further benefit is the close proximity of the Brookley Airport and Industrial Park just south of the CPT site where all the major air express companies have facilities. Thus the completed project will offer water land and air shipping opportunities with value-added facilities in the same vicinity.
Moffatt & Nichol was retained to perform an economic benefits analysis and their report suggests that 1700 permanent jobs will be created by the project with direct economic benefits of $68 million and indirect benefits of $125.8 million.
A study by the University of South Alabama concluded that construction of Phase I including development of a single berth container terminal and supporting rail infrastructure would create 1425 jobs for the year 2005.
With the passage of Amendment One in 2000 the Alabama State Port Authority is slated to receive $100 million for expansion and renovation projects from the state’s oil and gas royalty revenue fund. The completed terminal is expected to capture a significant portion of containerized trade to the Gulf Coast and middle America regions.
To date approximately $20 million has been spent on improving the Pier A general cargo area ($15 million) and $5 million on demolition and environmental clean-up costs for the CPT project.
The project funding will span fiscal years 2005 2006 and 2007.
Planners worked closely with the local community specifically residents of the Nellie-Duval neighborhood which is across the road from one of the proposed value added warehouse areas. As a result of the concerns of these residents the port included setbacks for trees landscaping to blend in with the neighborhood and sensitive lighting. The residents are satisfied with these proposals and the landscaping will present an attractive view from Interstate 10 replacing a view of unscreened industrial development.
A further enhancement is a planned park at Arlington Point. The engineering design contract for the proposed 47 acre public access and mitigation project was authorized by the Port Authority’s board of directors at the October 26 2004 meeting. The Board awarded Spectrum and Associates a $145000 contract to develop a plan with guidance and input from the ASPA stakeholders and civic groups. There may be an additional 21 acres made available for the project pending resolution of the Authority’s proposed purchase of a neighboring tract owned by the federal government. The public access component will incorporate both wetlands and uplands areas for the general public’s recreational use.