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The Alabama Port Authority set a new benchmark in July, moving more cargo containers than ever before, and port officials say that Mobile’s performance in an era of supply chain turmoil is being noticed.
Over the last decade, the Port Authority and APM Terminals, which operates the container terminal in Mobile, have steadily expanded the Mobile terminal, making it one of the fastest growing in the nation. The Port Authority announced Aug. 15 that in July it broke 50,000 20-foot-equivalent units in a month for the first time since the container terminal opened in 2009.
In July 2022 the port saw 35.8% growth for dry and refrigerated cargo over July 2021 and 185.7% growth for intermodal cargo.
Expansion projects at the container terminal have included the addition of newer, larger cranes; additional storage space for containers; and a dock extension allowing for two 1,000-foot vessels to dock at the same time. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working on a project to deepen the Mobile Ship Channel, which will allow bigger ships to transit Mobile Bay. When it is complete, ships carrying as many as 14,000 TEUs will be able to unload in Mobile.
Meanwhile, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the country’s largest ports have struggled to keep up with demand. That has meant delays for containerships forced to wait offshore before unloading at those ports.
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“We talk daily with shippers who are actively shifting their supply chain to the Port of Mobile because their bottom line depends on it,” said Beth Branch, chief commercial officer for the Port Authority. “We are here to help companies reduce the landed cost of their goods and to offer reliability.”
“The Port of Mobile is open for business,” said Port Authority Director and CEO John C. Driscoll. “This growth shows that Mobile is a top choice for shippers looking to avoid congestion and delays as they move their cargo quickly and efficiently. As we look ahead to increased capacity and a deeper, wider ship channel, the Port of Mobile will keep building on this success for the state.”
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According to information released Aug. 15 by the Port Authority, cargo being unloaded in Mobile can be in Chicago two days later, and turnaround times for trucks hauling containerized cargo are “well under the industry average.”
Container volume for 2022 so far is over 312,000 TEUs, 12% higher than the same period in 2021. The Port Authority said it expects to see total 2022 traffic of more than 500,000 TEUs. In May, the Port Authority and APM Terminals agreed on the next stage of expansion. The $104 million project will develop another 32 acres of land, some of which will be manmade. The project will raise the container terminal’s capacity to a million TEUs per year by 2025.
In conjunction with the state and partner railroads, the port also is working to improve rail connections that will allow cargo containers to move upstate by rail. One project, the Alabama-USA Corridor, will allow containers to flow from the port to the Birmingham area and points north; another involves the construction of a container depot in Montgomery.