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Port hopes to land $36 million in TIGER funds


PALMETTO - With some help from a TIGER, Port Manatee could move forward on some improvement projects, executive director David McDonald said Thursday.

The TIGER, an acronym for Transportation Investing Generating Economic Recovery, is part of the federal stimulus package, and the port is angling for $36 million for some projects.

  • A 32-acre container yard, phase 1

  • An extension of Berth 12 by 600 feet

  • An additional container crane

  • New switching locomotives

A project the port would have to pay for would be dredging the area off Berth 12.

The locomotives, which are used as switching engines, may look good because they've been painted, McDonald said, but they date back to the 1950s.

This is an opportunity for seaports to get some of the money from the package, he said, and the complicated application has been submitted.

As for the dredging, McDonald said, "We needed to show sponsor contribution, so that's what we put in the application."

The projects are construction-ready, he said. "These are already designed, permitted and ready to construct," he said.

One of the things that was very important, and would bring the application to the top of the pile was a regional approach, McDonald said. So they looked across the Gulf at the port of Brownsville, Port Manatee's sister port, where there's a direct connection.

It's like I-10, which goes from Florida across the state, with M-10, a sort of marine highway, he said.

"They've actually dubbed our system as M-10," McDonald said,"'paralleling I-10."

What's needed is a letter of recommendation to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recommending the port of Brownsville's application. That would go to the members and the chairman.

"I think it's an important component of what we're trying to do here," he said. "You're trying to find ways to make your project meet the requirements of the application, and this is a component of that."

The motion for a letter of recommendation that would come back to the chairman passed 7-0.

"I think that's a good motion," Chairman Ron Getman said. "Hopefully, this will be the start of something really good."

He commended McDonald for trying to secure funds for the port using an innovative approach.

In other Manatee County Port Authority action on Thursday, the members voted 6-0 for the following consent agenda items:

  • Budget resolution

  • Designation of voting delegates to the 2009 American Association of Port Authorities Convention

  • Travel authorization

  • Warehouse 2 improvements

The Port Authority also approved the following:

  • Rolling over a 2009 commercial paper loan of $10 million. Bob Armstrong of the port staff said interest rates on commercial paper are very low, and with fees the port is paying a variable interest rate of less than 1 percent on the $10 million, $100,000 a year, as opposed to about $650,000 if the loan was bonded. The vote was 7-0 to approve. There was mention of the county lending the port the money, but the interest rate would be 3 percent, and the money, from the rainy day fund, would not be accessible to the county.

  • Acquiring a power supply for cold storage containers. McDonald said more power outlets are needed for reefers, and the port found a used device that could also be used in emergencies such as hurricanes. The decision was approved 7-0.

  • Approved an easement for a spoil island 7-0.

  • Approved deferring a tariff amendment 7-0.


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