Port of Palm Beach is shaping the future of the Port with a focus on further developing its on-dock intermodal freight rail facility.* Right now, out of all the Ports in Florida, the Port of Palm Beach has the highest intermodal freight rail use. Of the 300,000 TEUs handled each year, 44,000 TEUs are moved by intermodal rail. That is nearly 15 percent of the port’s total container throughput.
“The goal is to maximize cargo efficiencies by increasing the annual freight rail capacity to nearly 100,000 TEUs, without expanding the Port’s small footprint of 165 acres,” said Port of Palm Beach District Board Chairman Joseph Anderson.
The rail facility improvements falls under the Port Infrastructure Development Project, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Port of Palm Beach was the only Port in Florida to receive a federal port infrastructure development grant. With the Port’s match, the project totals about $26 million.
“The containerized cargo market in this region is growing at a steady 3.5 percent per year. I believe rail is the answer to growing the port’s container throughout now and in the future,” said Port Executive Director, PPM and Florida Ports Council Board Chairman Manuel Almira.
This project is expected to move more cargo faster on and off the Port, reducing container dwell time and transportation and inventory carrying costs for the cargo shippers using the Port of Palm Beach. It will also reduce truckers’ processing times through the entrance gate, resulting in more efficiency.
The project will replace 80-pound rail that dates back to the 1950’s. The port plans to install 136-pound rail with concrete ties on the entire 6.5 miles of port owned rail track.
“The completion of this project is critical in the Port reaching its full potential as a regional economic engine with minimal negative impact on the regional highway network and further preserving the environment,” Almira said.
The port expects the project to create an additional 105 direct jobs, while at the same time reducing 29,000 truck trips a year off congested interstates like I-95.
The Port Infrastructure Development Project goes hand-in-hand with the Port’s 2022 Strategic Master Plan. Right now, the master plan is in the early stages, with an estimated completion year of 2022.
“For a lot of us here, this is considered a legacy project. We are not going to be here in 10 years from now when we do the next one. We want the next group of people who work on the 2032 Master Plan to say those individuals knew what they were doing and they did it right,” said Director of Planning and Development Carl Baker.
A key component of the port’s master plan will be the growth and expansion of the port’s megayacht berth in a quest to focus on South Florida’s superyacht industry.
According to the Florida Harbor Pilots Association, the Port of Palm Beach Harbor Pilots currently handle more vessels per pilot per year than any other port in Florida. The port credits a portion of the vessel traffic to the megayachts that have been vacationing in the new and improved berth. The port recently invested $1.5 million to add shore power to the megayahct berth occupied by port tenant, Berth One Palm Beach.
“The shore power hookups allow Berth One Palm Beach to optimize berth space. The new service not only benefits Berth One Palm Beach’s customers, but it also benefits port neighbors. Shore power eliminates the noise of generators and reduces engine emissions,” said Port of Palm Beach Engineer Ronald Coddington.
The berth has attracted unique yachts including an advanced exploration vessel, OceanXplorer, a 437-foot superyacht and a large speed sailboat named Argo.
The port’s megayacht visitors can pump up to $1 million a month into the South Florida economy, helping boost local businesses.
This month, the projects and improvements currently taking place at the Port were featured in a 30-minute show that aired on the Palm Beach County government channel 20 in an effort to educate residents about the recent happenings at their local port.
Click here to watch the “Import Export Your Port” show.
*PIDP Grant Application Summary by TranSystems