Last week, Governor Tom Wolf announced a comprehensive capital investment program at the Port of Philadelphia that will result in more than $300 million in investment in the Port’s infrastructure, warehousing and equipment.
The initiative will start next year and continue through 2020.
The program, ranking among the largest investments by a state on the East Coast, will boost three of the busiest sectors of the Port of Philadelphia, including the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port’s automobile-handling operation and the Tioga Marine Terminal.
The improvements will result in doubling container capacity at the Port, provide increased breakbulk (non-containerized) cargo capacity and bring a substantial increase in automobile-handling capacity.
A total direct job increase of 70 percent is projected from the current level of 3,124 to a projected 5,378 direct jobs. Total employment at the Port will also increase, from 10,341 to 17,020, and state and local tax revenues generated will increase from the current $69.6 million to $108.4 million annually.
About $200 million of the capital investment program will be invested in the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port of Philadelphia’s largest maritime facility. Improvements will include four new electric post-Panamax container cranes, the relocation of warehouses to facilitate container growth and the construction of new ones and a deeper 45-foot depth at the terminal’s marginal berths to match the new 45-foot depth of the Delaware River’s main channel. Electrification throughout the terminal will also be modernized to support electrification of existing diesel cranes and cold ironing capabilities at the terminal (the ability to power without the need for the vessels to burn fuel while docked).
As the latest example of the successful public/private partnerships at the Port, Astro Holdings, the tenant of the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, will also purchase one of the Post-Panamax container cranes for the terminal, as well as dedicating significant privately-owned port acreage, in the form of the Holt-owned 40-acre “Publicker” site located next to the Packer Avenue facility, for container growth through Packer Avenue Marine Terminal.
Officials of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) expect that these improvements will result in a doubling of the cargo-handling capacity at the terminal, already the busiest and most multi-use terminal at the Port of Philadelphia. Container-handling capacity will especially increase, with a 900,000 TEU capacity immediately resulting from the improvements, scalable to exceed 1.2 million TEU capacity in the future, a significant improvement over the terminal’s current 400,000-plus TEU capacity.
The improvements at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port’s primary container facility, will occur at about the time that the Delaware Main Channel Deepening Project, will be completed.
The Port’s automobile import/export facility, which currently processes 150,000 cars and employs more than 300 direct workers will also benefit by receiving about $90 million of the Governor’s Capital Investment program. Since 2010, Glovis America been the main customer of the Port’s Auto Processing facility, located in South Philadelphia adjacent to the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, bringing Hyundai and Kia automobiles on vessels for eventual distribution to dealerships throughout the region.
Improvements to the Port’s automobile-handling operation will include the addition of 155 paved and fenced acres above the flood plain at the Port’s Southport site; the conversion of the former seaplane hangar at Southport into a second auto-processing site; enhancements at the main auto-processing site at Pier 98 Annex and the establishment of a framework that provides flexibility for use of the land the Port needs for containers and automobiles, as determined by market demands.
Tioga Marine Terminal will be the third beneficiary of the State Capital Investment Program at the Port. $12 million has been earmarked for improvements to the main on-dock warehouse that has been successfully handling and processing Brazilian wood pulp cargoes since 2014.
A second warehouse at Tioga will be converted into a food-grade warehouse, allowing the Port increase its wood pulp volumes to meet the demands of Pennsylvania companies requiring wood pulp. Improved rail access and the purchase of a second mobile harbor crane will also add capacity for Tioga Marine Terminal.