Port of Mobile Reports Volume Boom in February

Port of Mobile
Alabama State Port Authority

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The Port of Mobile saw double-digit jumps in container traffic in February, the Alabama Port Authority has reported.

The figures appear to reflect the promised impact of a major new refrigerated shipping facility, as well as the Port Authority’s ongoing emphasis on developing intermodal connections.

MTC Logistics opened a gigantic cold storage facility in October and announced plans to build a second one. The facility, located near the container terminal operated by APM Terminals, is equipped to receive, store and distribute shipments of frozen goods, and also has the capacity to chill 30 truckloads of cargo to -20 degrees Celsius every day. State officials have described it as a potential boon to Alabama’s poultry industry, vastly expanding the Mobile port’s capacity to handle chicken exports.

According to figures released March 16 by the Port Authority, the port’s volume of refrigerated cargo was 54.2% higher in February than in January. The volume of refrigerated containers handled by the port was 80.9% higher in February 2022 than in February 2021.

In February, intermodal rail transfers swelled by 12.4% over January traffic and a whopping 148.2% over February 2021. Overall, February 2022 container volume was 33% higher than in February 2021, climbing to 2,898 20-foot-equivalent units.

The port has been working to develop intermodal capability for years, and it has been a priority under Port Authority Director and CEO John Driscoll since he took the position in June 2020. Currently, intermodal rail traffic out of the port runs almost entirely on a Canadian National line running to Memphis and Chicago. But major projects are under way to change that.

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In early January, the state announced support for the Alabama-USA rail corridor project, which will facilitate container traffic on Norfolk Southern lines connecting the port to industrial sites in Calvert, Selma and the Birmingham region. A separate initiative will do the same for Montgomery on CSX lines; in late January, the Port Authority approved the purchase of land for an intermodal container yard in the area of Montgomery’s Hyundai plant. In both cases, the railroads are investing millions in the upgrades alongside state, federal and Port Authority funding.

“The Port of Mobile is rising to meet the market’s needs as demand for dynamic, on-time service grows nationwide and shippers leverage optionality to increase competition,” said Beth Branch, chief commercial officer.

In another recent development, federal allocations announced by Sen. Richard Shelby include $132.7 million for general port improvements and $67.3 million specifically for rail and intermodal improvements.


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