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Ports & Terminals

Port of Wilmington gets a visit from Congress to assess harbor improvement needs

Wilmington, NC - The Port of Wilmington hosted a scenic port tour for Congressman David Rouzer (R) and Bill Shuster (R), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to help assess the progress and needs of the port. The main focus was on a potential harbor improvement project which would get the port past its 42 foot depth as well as provide a wider berth to accommodate larger vessels. Congressman Rouzer, who is also on the committee, invited Congressman Shuster to show him the Port of Wilmington’s “substantial growth potential,” which was clear by the end of the tour. With a long history of following politics, I can honestly say it was refreshing to see a couple of congressmen that were focused on providing information and listening to the port’s needs. When I asked Shuster what he was looking for on his visit, he replied, “I want to see that these ports are doing the right things.” He was indeed seeing what he was hoping for during this trip. The tour began with a drive around the docks, narrated by Jeff Miles, Chief Operating Officer of The North Carolina State Ports Authority. The port was bustling with cargo loading and unloading off of ICL’s Frisia Bonn as we learned more about their turn times, which are 20 minutes or less, rivaling if not exceeding the performance of major ports around the U.S., including the major ports just north and south of Wilmington. Central to the tour was the explanation of the potential business the port is poised to take on with its current capacity only being utilized at 50% on the container cargo portion of the port. With plenty of room and a lack of any congestion issues, North Carolina’s Port of Wilmington is ready to grow. The NC Ports are all within 1000 miles of over 170 million consumers, making the port attractive as a centralized solution to the transportation of goods. “This is an exciting time for the Authority,” Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Cozza said. “We’re on pace to have the best year in Authority history and we have to continue the positive momentum into fiscal year 2016 by preparing our ports for the future.” During the lunch break, there were more questions for the congressmen, mainly focused around the issues with dredging that arise outside of the port itself and effect the local beaches which are a major part of Wilmington’s economy. In the past, the dredging maintenance has caused sand to fall away from the beaches, causing frustration and more expense to replace the sand. It’s a challenge that deepening the channel may exaggerate. Recently AJOT was also onsite for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Port of Wilmington’s Cold Storage facility which is underway and expected to be fully functional by Spring of 2016. This addition to the port opens up additional services needed to facilitate the state’s poultry and pork industry, the surrounding states’ needs, as well as opens the port up for importing more perishables such as fruits and vegetables.
Eric Nelson

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