State files application to expand Portland terminal

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PORTLAND — A site plan application filed with the Planning Department will pave the way toward expansion of the city’s container ship capacity.

Filed last month by the Maine Department of Transportation, the Level II site plan would allow its Maine Port Authority to raze a storage building and build 9,000 square feet of new wharf area at the International Marine Terminal, 460 Commercial St.

The end result is creating space for a second crane at the terminal and the potential for doubling the container ship business that began in 2011.

According to a construction management plan filed with the site plan application, the job is not expected to go out to bid until November, and the anticipated construction range is from December through November 2019.

The new crane caps a phase of terminal expansion estimated to cost at least $15.4 million, according to an MDOT application for federal funding submitted in 2016. The new crane will be bought with $4.5 million in state bonds.

The 2016 application estimated the cost of demolition, filling space for the new pier and improving dock fenders for the ships at $4.7 million.

The second phase of expansion includes improvements to the railroad connections to the terminal. The addition of a second crane could mean the terminal could handle 50,000 containers annually by 2020. In 2012, the terminal handled 227 containers all year, according to the 2016 federal funding application.

The application estimated the economic impact of the expansion at $46 million, with 15 permanent jobs added to the waterfront.

According to the Maine Port Authority website, which is part of the MDOT, the terminal has 785 feet of water frontage with water depths at 35 feet. There is also room for as many as 876, 40-foot long shipping containers, in 219 stacks of four each.

Icelandic shippers Eimskip are the terminal’s primary customer; the company has made Portland its primary North American port for shipping. In September 2017, Eimskip announced it would increase its calls to port from 36 to 52 container ships annually.

The MDOT has also selected Americold Logistics to operate a cold storage warehouse on 6 acres adjacent to the terminal. The warehouse plans have not been submitted to the city, but councilors last November approved zoning changes to allow a warehouse as high as 75 feet.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

The Maine Department of Transportation has filed a site plan application with Portland in order to make room at the International Marine Terminal for a second crane to handle container ship freight. Construction could begin in late fall.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.