Port of Mobile set for new vehicle terminal

Construction of the vehicle terminal will start in September Photo: DXR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0 Construction of the vehicle terminal will start in September Photo: DXR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The US Port of Mobile is set to get a new vehicle terminal after the US government gave the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) a $12.7m Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.

Construction of the facility, which is estimated to cost $60m, will start in September, with the terminal set to open late next year, according to ASPA chief executive Jimmy Lyons.

The terminal will be built on the location of a former bulk terminal in the Port of Mobile’s upper harbour, with the vehicle hub set to handle up to 160,000 import and export vehicles a year, including automobiles, trucks, military vehicles and other rolling stock.

The TIGER grant, awarded by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), will supplement $28.8m in financing from the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, which is administering funds from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and port money of $18.5m.

ASPA plans on developing the vehicle terminal initiative through a public-private partnership whereby the concessionaire that operates the facility will make capital contributions and cover operating costs.

According to Mr Lyons, the company will move rapidly to seek engineering proposals, while completing paperwork with the DOT’s Maritime Administration, and to start building work in the autumn.

Commenting on the TIGER grant, he said: “TIGER grants are highly competitive, and we were thrilled when we heard about it.”

Vehicle traffic is new for the Port of Mobile, but the chief executive said that the facility is advantaged by access to Class 1 railways, which link it with local auto-assembly ports as well as import vehicle distribution hubs.

Port officials view handling finished vehicles as an opportunity, with a number of vehicle-manufacturers having constructed assembly facilities in both Alabama and nearby states and February seeing Toyota and Mazda announce plans for a $1.6bn assembly facility near the northern Alabamian city of Huntsville.

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