Federal funds awarded to Mobile Airport Authority and Alabama Port Authority | Mobile County Alabama News
MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — The U.S. Department of Transportation today awarded two Alabama transit authorities $100 million to build multimodal transportation assets in Mobile.
The Mobile Airport Authority and the Alabama State Port Authority jointly competed for the opportunity to use the United States Department of Transportation’s Demonstration Program Grant to facilitate the improvement of capital infrastructure at Port of Mobile and Downtown Mobile Airport.
The competitive grant was authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act and is intended to increase the efficiency of the movement of goods by air, rail, road and sea.
“This is one of the most impactful federal grants of my time in Congress,” U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said for a press release. “Mobile is uniquely positioned to become a major transport hub, with infrastructure already in place for sea, rail, air and road transport. For many years I have worked to create these conditions by dredging Mobile Harbor and improving the airport. This program will build on that vision.”
Shelby continued, “Our Gulf Coast and the entire state of Alabama stand to benefit immensely from this funding in ways we can only imagine. Mobile has a lot to offer, and I’m thrilled that we use its existing infrastructure to create a new transportation hub and cost-effective energy source for the entire state.
MAA will use its $62 million share of the grant and other funds to build a new international airport terminal at BFM.
“We owe immense gratitude to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby. This project would not be possible without his support and leadership,” Mobile Airport Authority Chairman Elliot Maisel said for the press release. “This investment brings us closer to our goal of building a new debt-free terminal, and that’s exciting. By avoiding debt, we can keep costs low for airlines and pass those savings on to our customers.
While providing convenient, low-cost air access to residents, the new terminal will also add critical commercial aircraft cargo hold capacity and more efficient cargo processing with federal inspection services, according to the release. MAA plans to open the new terminal in 2024 with a goal of LEED certification.
“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity this funding creates,” said Chris Curry, chairman of the Mobile Airport Authority. “For residents, this move means more direct flights and lower fares. The new international terminal also creates increased air cargo capacity, which will drive economic growth and success on Alabama‘s Gulf Coast.
Under this grant, the Alabama State Port Authority will receive $38 million to leverage the efficiency of freight transportation by sea, rail, air and road. The port will invest in an Intermodal Container Complex Interterminal Connecting Bridge to connect the marine terminal to the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility terminals and adjacent logistics park. The connector facilitates the direct, low-emission transfer of a container from an ocean-going vessel to rail via the ICTF or to warehouse distribution centers located in the logistics park.
The port will also invest in site development and civil infrastructure for the construction of distribution centers. These assets are located in the Port of Mobile, where a $367 million channel deepening and widening program is underway to provide shipping lines with a -50 foot draft channel by end of 2024 or beginning of 2025.
“The timing of this grant couldn’t be better,” said John C. Driscoll of the Alabama State Port Authority. “The port is progressing well with the canal modernization program, and we have just closed calendar year 2021 with unprecedented growth in our intermodal container facilities. As we enter the expansion of our fourth container terminal, this port is poised to offer cost-effective, reliable and efficient cargo and intermodal freight service for underserved logistics markets regionally and across across North America. We deeply appreciate the US DOT funding opportunity and Senator Shelby’s leadership in modernizing our port and multimodal transportation infrastructure to meet the needs of shippers and keep US trade globally competitive.
In calendar year 2021, containerized cargo volumes increased by 19% compared to 2020 volumes. Reefer containers showed a 50% increase in volume compared to 2020. The port attributes a large portion of this growth delivered nearly $74 million in refrigerated facility investment at the Port of Mobile to support refrigerated cargo supply chains, according to the press release.
The port’s intermodal container transfer facility year-end volume represents a 139% increase over 2020 volumes. To date, the terminal has handled more than 3.6 million TEUs since the began containerized operations in 2008. Since 2015, Port of Mobile’s volume has grown 120%, making the Gateway one of the fastest growing container ports in the United States.
“The incredible $100 million federal grant awarded today to the Alabama State Port Authority and Mobile Airport Authority will further expand and optimize our growing container terminal. and pave the way for an international airport that will connect imported and exported air cargo to our deep draft port, two interstate highway systems, five Class I railroads and 15,000 miles of track inland waterways,” said Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “A big thank you to Senator Shelby for his bold vision and unprecedented investment in our region. His leadership ensures the continued transformation of Alabama’s sea, air and inland port system into a world-class multimodal gateway to ensure the creation of new, well-paying jobs for generations to come. On behalf of the citizens of Mobile, we are sincerely grateful to Senator Shelby, our congressional delegation, and Secretary Buttigieg for investing in these great job-creating projects that will benefit our city, state, and country.
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