Delaware Officials Pick New Operator for Port of Wilmington
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State Reps. Valerie Longhurst and Debra Heffernan, Controller General Ruth Ann Miller and state Sens. David Sokola and Jack Walsh on July 11 approved replacing GT USA Wilmington LLC with Enstructure, a private marine terminal and logistics company with offices in Massachusetts and New York.
“The Port of Wilmington and its workforce are critical to Delaware,” Longhurst and Sokola noted in a shared statement. “Thousands of Delaware families rely on the good-paying jobs that come from our port. We look forward to working with Enstructure as the new long-term operator and investor in one of Delaware’s most important assets.”
The action by members of the Delaware General Assembly supported a unanimous decision July 7 by the board of the Diamond State Port Corp., which owns the Port of Wilmington as a state business entity.
Delaware state Rep. Valerie Longhurst and state Sen. David Sokola
“With the concurrence of legislative leaders designated by the state’s Joint Capital Improvement Committee, Enstructure is prepared to take the helm at the port in a matter of days,” Diamond State Port noted.
The full-service deepwater port and marine terminal handles 400 vessels yearly with annual import-export cargo tonnage amounting to about 6 million tons. The 300-acre Wilmington Terminal provides access to northern and East Coast markets due to its proximity to interstates 95, 295 and 495 as well as the New Jersey Turnpike.
An advantage that the port has, according to the state, is having truck turn times take place in less than 40 minutes. Trucks move 75% of all freight in Delaware. The Port of Wilmington operates in the same drayage market as Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York-New Jersey.
“With its proposal to take over operations from GT Wilmington, Enstructure is committing significant capital investment in the current Port of Wilmington. Enstructure estimates that in the next five years, they will invest as much as $65 million at the facility, depending on growth,” noted a Diamond State Port announcement July 12.
Future port expansion may involve adding storage capacity for existing and future commercial businesses. Features include a 4,000-foot marginal wharf, four 50-ton ship-to-shore gantry cranes and two 100-ton mobile harbor cranes, 800,000 square feet of on-dock cold storage/refrigerated warehouse space, two dry cargo warehouses with rail sidings and more than 50 acres for container storage. It also has over 40 acres of outside storage space.
Critical to the state’s trade, the Port of Wilmington is North America’s largest banana port and also a top U.S. gateway for fresh fruit and produce (Chilean winter fruit, Moroccan clementines, Argentine apples and pears, Peruvian grapes, and New Zealand kiwi), according to the 2022 Delaware State Freight Plan, finalized in December.
The port, located on the Delaware River less than 60 miles from the Atlantic, also boasts North America’s largest bulk juice storage terminal, able to hold 10 million gallons.
The mix of the Port of Wilmington’s freight tonnage consists of container goods (33%), dry bulk/breakbulk items (32%) and liquid bulk shipments (29%), with the rest a mix of general and roll-on/roll-off cargo. The port handles 200,000 TEUs annually through its perishables terminal and 1 million tons of liquid petroleum products yearly at its petroleum jetty on the Christina River.
In gaining approval to operate the port, Enstructure secured both an agreement to work closely with the International Longshoremen’s Association as well as a project labor agreement with the Delaware Building and Construction Trades Council.
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