BRADENTON -- Port Manatee is growing up. It will be known as Florida's International Gateway. It is getting a new sea wall, newly dredged berths and basin, as well as a new Port Director. They are connecting direct routes in from the new Panama Canal, and railing and trucking product out to states like Indiana. A big piece of that operation will be; the Green Express Project.
The Green Express Project is a continuation of the port's commitment to facilitate a larger capacity, faster turnover and a variety of types of storage. There will be increased rail access, a container yard and the likelihood of refrigerated storage. Plus there will be warehouse space and optional office space that will all fit into the port's Master Plan.
Thursday at the Manatee County Port Authority meeting, Port Director David McDonald, presented to the commissioners with a power point demonstration that indicated the vicinity to where the newly constructed warehouse would be. There were five options, ranging from a total cost of $9 million to $15 million. Those that did not have rail included the price to bring it, and the plan also included the price of possible refrigeration. There will be an upgrading of cargo containers and ground transportation.
Assisted funds will come from TIGER ll and TIGER lll grants. TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants are US Department of Transportation Stimulus funds. The Port anticipates becoming a new player in the international trade market, shining a new light on to the whole region.
After much discussion about the progress and the work yet to be done, McDonald said he appreciated the commission's vote of confidence, and that he would have a draft agreement to the plan, put together soon.
At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Joe McClash said, "I know we shouldn't be getting the champagne out already, but I feel we have a golden opportunity in front of us." It seemed he was certainly not alone. For now, it looks like Port Manatee is the county's economic ace in the hole.
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