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SeaPort Manatee Awarded Nearly $12 Million from Federal Infrastructure Funding

PALMETTO – SeaPort Manatee has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $12 million to advance a 16.56-acre expansion of container yard facilities at the thriving Gulf Coast trade gateway.

In a September 15 press release, the U.S. Department of Transportation shared that the federal government had awarded $15 million to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and $11.95 million to the Manatee County Port Authority from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant program.

INFRA supports highway, multimodal freight, and rail projects that will make the nation's transportation systems safer and more resilient, eliminate supply chain bottlenecks, and improve critical freight movements. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also expanded INFRA eligibility to include wildlife crossing projects, marine highway corridor projects, and surface transportation projects located within or functionally connected to an international border crossing.

The critical SeaPort Manatee container yard expansion is one of 26 projects that the $1.5 billion in infrastructure investments from the INFRA competitive grant funding was announced for by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who characterized the grants as "transformative investments."

"Today we are announcing transformative investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and rail to improve the way Americans get around and help lower the costs of shipping goods," Buttigieg said in a press release.

SeaPort Manatee has announced that the federal investment would be used toward the design and construction of 16.56 acres of additional cargo-handling space and a new container yard access road, as well as for the installation of electrical systems for two new mobile harbor cranes that arrived at the port in April.

The port’s latest project will expand 18 acres of adjacent container yard which SeaPort Manatee has already completed, and 6.62 more acres under construction slated for mid-2023 completion. The earlier phases of the port’s project moved forward thanks to federal, state and local funding totaling more than $18 million.

Besides the INFRA grant funding, the port’s projects will also utilize state and local funds, including equal sums of $2,147,650 each from a Florida Department of Transportation grant and from SeaPort Manatee revenue.

SeaPort Manatee will begin soliciting bids for the expansion project, with a goal of starting construction in 2023 and completing the project in 2025.

"SeaPort Manatee is extremely grateful to the USDOT and FDOT for their support of this crucial project, which should furnish sufficient cargo-handling capacity to accommodate burgeoning activity at the seaport through approximately 2041," said Carlos Buqueras, SeaPort Manatee's executive director.

Noting a steady rise in containerized cargo tonnage to the port, Buqueras added in the press release, "Cargo volumes are projected to continue to rise as SeaPort Manatee flourishes as a vital supply chain gateway for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard."

Manatee County Commissioner and Chairman of the Manatee Port Authority, Reggie Bellamy, cited a benefit-to-cost ratio of more than 25-to-1 for the expansion project.

"We are very appreciative of this federal funding for the delivery of modern infrastructure for safe, efficient movement of increasing levels of cargo while delivering significant local, regional and national economic benefits," Bellamy said in the press release.

SeaPort Manatee’s press release included that the local port is located "Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico" and is a thriving and dynamic global trade hub, serving as a ships-to-shelves gateway for Southwest and Central Florida markets.

Located in Palmetto, Florida, the self-sustaining port is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal. With its 10 deep-draft berths, the port generates more than $5.1 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 37,000 direct and indirect jobs–all without the aid of local property tax.


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