DELAWARE RIVER PORTS & TRADE - Delaware River ports anticipate further growth

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTThe maritime industry is intensely competitive on the Delaware River, but ports there are holding their own and expanding their potential.
For starters, the Port of Philadelphia wants to develop its facilities into a major best-in-class East Coast container facility that would have the potential of handling more than 3.5 million containers annually.
Container traffic there is already on the rise. Last year it increased 21% to 247,211 teus. That translates into 1,906,832 metric tons of containerized cargo, a 13.98% increase over the 1,672,931 tons handled in 2005.
Port of Philadelphia spokesman Joseph Menta points to the excellent reputation of the port’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal as key to this growth.
“That, coupled with incentives, have resulted in significant new business,” he states.
Incentives involve an intermodal incentive program whereby participating ocean carriers that utilize Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) marine facilities and any one of the three class-one railroads (Norfolk Southern, CP Rail, and CSX) in the port district for the movement of containers, receive a $50 per container incentive. The port had previously offered $25 per container.
“The previous Intermodal Incentive program was a big success, so we expect the enhanced program to be an even bigger success,” Menta states. “Giving carriers that initial financial incentive to sample our facilities and capabilities has been an extremely good move on the port’s part because once they sample our abilities, a longtime commitment by many carriers often soon follows.”
Philadelphia offers one of the few ports in the country with service by three class-one railroads.
Besides incentives to boost traffic, most significant in the port’s proposal is expansion plans for the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. Major American terminal operators, ocean carriers and an investment firm have expressed interest in developing and operating container handling facilities under the new port development plan.
Several major carriers have already increased their service to the port. Effective March 2007, Hamburg Sud’s “Trident Service” increased its calls at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal from fortnightly to weekly. The “Trident Service” has been a mainstay at the facility since it began service in February 2006.
“The ‘Trident‘ service,’ which gives our port major connections in Europe, as well as strengthening our Australia/New Zealand connections, is an example of a very successful new container service here,” Menta says.
Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) also recently added a Montevideo port call to its East Coast of South America Service. MSC has been calling the Packer Avenue Terminal since mid-2006.
The proposed plan, dubbed Southport, would greatly enhance container traffic growth and utilize the opportunities and available real estate for the growing world-class logistics location with immediate intermodal access to virtually every market.
“With the congestion at West Coast ports, the ship size restrictions of the Panama Canal and the growing importance of the Suez Canal because of its ability to accommodate the giant ships coming on line, Philadelphia has the potential of being a major player in globalization,” says Uwe Schulz, president of the Ports of the Delaware River Marine Trade Association (PMTA).
“While it’s still on the drawing board, significant progress has been made to finally bring the expansion project to fruition,” Menta says.
The plan calls for relocating a proposed Food Distribution Center (FDC) away from prime waterfront real estate. Maritime and port interests are lobbying politicians and the PRPA to make this happen, citing that the FDC would jeopardize the efficient and effective container facility at the Navy Yard area.
The FDC, which does not require waterfront access, would ultimately block the port’s access to the railroads.
“PRPA is pleased to promote an ongoing dialogue between the various parties who have strong vi

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American Journal of Transportation