BRADENTON -- Many people in the area aren't too familiar with Port Manatee. Miami, Port Everglades, Jacksonville and Tampa get most of the attention, but that's about to change. The port sits just a few miles east of the Skyway and has been there for over 40 years. By water, it is four hours closer to the Gulf than Port of Tampa, and that's going to be one of the reasons for its success.
It hasn't moved, but what it is now capable of has put Port Manatee in the big leagues. It's new Berth 12 is 1,600 ft long with a water depth of 40 plus feet. Other features that have kept the industry from seeing it as capable of competing for global size vessels, was the caliber of ground transport equipment. That too is no longer the case.
At the Thursday Manatee Port Authority meeting just before the celebration, Port Manatee's CFO & Senior Director of Business, Robert Armstrong, demonstrated just how capable the port is at handling world maritime cargo.
1. The interchange tracks have recently been expanded, track weight ranges from 100 to 132 pound and the remaining port tracks are currently being up-graded.
2. Port Manatee railroad staff have a proven record of handling 80 car unit trains on a weekly basis, on 8 miles of track.
3. Their average fertilizer car carries over 200,000 pounds of cargo, the average refrigerated car, 133,000 pounds.
4. It operates 24 hours a day and has a proven track record with CSXT.
Armstrong sees Port Manatee as a major player for the traffic soon to come from the new Panama Canal. During the ribbon cutting ceremony at Berth 12, you could see that same sentiment on all of the others attending the affair.
The trophies in the picture, where the ribbon was being cut, were given out to commissioners and port officials at the ceremony. They were made from the teeth of the dredge machine that dug the berth.