On May 20 Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell described the benefits of an agreement that will allow dredging of the main channel of the Delaware River to proceed under the direction of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA).
“With our agreement to move forward with dredging Pennsylvania through the PRPA is now prepared to begin an aggressive program of investment in our ports” said Rendell. “We will partner with ports to upgrade and expand existing facilities while also working to attract long-term private investment from international shipping lines and operators to develop our port and allow us to compete on the world stage.”
Governor Rendell said several international shipping companies and terminal operators have expressed interest about private investment in the expansion of the port facilities but only if the dredging project was allowed to move forward. The dredging will deepen the river channel from 40 to 45 feet allowing larger modern shipping vessels to access ports located along the river.
“In the coming weeks I intend to personally meet with representatives of these lines to secure private investment for the development of our port including particularly the Southport project” the Governor said. “Given that we have one commodity that other ports do not share the availability of contiguous land I am optimistic that we can and will attract substantial investment and through expansion we will add jobs to the region.”
The Southport Project will locate breakbulk and container facilities on former Navy property south of the Walt Whitman Bridge which connects Philadelphia to South Jersey eliminating a potential height obstacle to future ships with greater air draft requirements. In May the governor agreed to relocate a food distribution facility planned for the Navy property which does not require waterfront access and which would have blocked access to the port.
Governor Rendell said Pennsylvania intends to move forward with planned financing at the PRPA to raise more than $300 million in investment for immediate port development. The bond issue will be supported by the state and by the private beneficiaries of the funds and will support a number of projects:
• Pier Rehabilitation – Upgrades to Piers 38 40 80 and 82 to secure infrastructure and extend the life of the piers.
• Pier 82 upgrades – Upgrades to Pier 82 infrastructure to increase competitiveness in attracting a 52-ship-per-year account to this facility.
• Tioga Marine Terminal – Extend the crane rail for the container cranes and build a 100000 square-foot warehouse for the Chilean fruit business.
• Pier 74 Annex Warehouse – Develop 200000 square-foot warehouse for paper products.
• Astro Holdings/Packer Avenue Marine Terminal – Construct two gantry cranes crane rail extensioncrane electrification and expansion of a refrigerated warehouse.
• Penn City/Brown – Demolition and construction of a new warehouse on Pier 80.
• Dependable Distribution – Construction of a 100000-square-foot on-site warehouse for additional storage of cocoa beans.
• Camden Iron & Metal – Support the purchase of Schuylkill Pier 3 located at Girard Point and build a facility for scrap metal and other potential bulk cargo.
• Emerson Landfill/Victory Gardens – Support the purchase of land to relocate an existing tenant from Pier 3 so to enhance a marketable bulk terminal facility there.
Governor Rendell said the bond financing also will support the Food Distribution Center project. Cost and environmental concerns will prevent the center from being located at the Navy Yard. Officials are working with the FDC merchants to develop alternatives including a proposal to renovate and upgrade their existing facilities in South Philadelphia.
“I want to reiterate that none of this investment would be cost effective and that we would not have the investment interest in the region that we now see if we were not moving forward with the Delaware River dredging project” Governor Rendell added.