August 2011

South Rail Loop Construction is Making Progress

Construction crews work on placing the middle of three at-grade crossings through Bissell Street

Today marks the second day of the Bissell Street closure for the construction of the three at-grade rail crossings.  These crossings are a part of the final rail loop infrastructure which will serve America’s Central Port’s new planned public terminals for its new South Harbor. One of the three crossings will be completed as part of the first phase of construction which is funded by the Port’s 2009 TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Installation of the three at-grade rail crossings is expected to be completed by Wednesday of this week. The Port will be issuing the Notice to Proceed for the signalization of this crossing this week and expects to have the crossing lights and gates installed by the end of this year. As announced earlier this month, the Port was awarded an additional $8.5 million dollars in TIGER funds to begin construction of the new South Harbor. Plans are currently being finalized with the Corps of Engineers and are expected to be released for bidding soon. For any questions regarding this project, please contact the Port engineering department at engineering@americascentralport.com

America’s Central Port Business Development Manager Appointed to Serve on District Export Council

Miles (r) with Asst US Commerce Secretary Kumar (c) and DEC Chairman Deepak Vyas (l)

Granite City, IL – Frank Miles, Business Development Manager for America’s Central Port located in Granite City, IL, was recently nominated to and appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on the region’s local District Export Council.

Closely affiliated with the U.S. Commercial Service’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers, the 56 District Export Councils (DECs) nationwide are organizations comprised of leaders from the local business community. These international trade professionals use their knowledge and international business experience to act as consultants to small and medium sized businesses who want to export their products into markets outside of the United States.

The energies of more than 1,800 exporters and export service providers throughout the United States, volunteer their time to promote numerous trade related activities. DEC members also sponsor and participate in numerous trade promotion activities, as well as advocate for effective trade policy positions. In addition, DECs play a major role in the planning and coordination of export activities for their businesses and communities.

As a lead organization serving the international business community, DECs facilitate development of an export assistance network and assist in coordinating the activities of trade assistance partners to leverage available resources. DECs also serve as a communications link between private business and the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and support the export expansion activities of the U.S. Department of Commerce in a variety of ways within their communities.

For more than 30 years, DECs have served the United States by assisting companies in their local communities export, thus promoting our country’s economic growth and creating new and higher-paying jobs. The DECs support their mission using funds that are generated through DEC fundraising activities, without any governmental appropriations. DECs may not raise funds for profit, and neither they nor their individual members may represent the U.S. Government in their capacity as DEC members.

Miles said “he considers it a privilege and an honor to serve on the region’s District Export Council. America’s Central Port is a key player in international trade and development and with our new south harbor, our leadership role in global trade and development will grow”.

America’s Central Port is at the center of the region’s intermodal freight transportation system, offering direct access to river, rail and road. Miles also said that “America’s Central Port capabilities are also enhanced through our Foreign Trade Zone partnerships with Mid America Airport and the Gateway Commerce Center”. Miles said “the Port performs critical services to support the region’s trade initiatives such as warehousing, transport, trans-load and just in time service”.

Port Sponsors Economic Development Forums

Participants at the Forum hear information about special Economic Development programs

Collinsville, IL– America’s Central Port co-hosted the second in a series of economic development training forums that was held on Thursday August 25, 2011 in Collinsville, Illinois.

Attended by over 70 local economic development and other elected officials, this second forum highlighted “site specific economic development incentive programs” that are available in Illinois. Forum participants heard from representatives of Moran Economic Development, who talked about TIF Districts and Gene Norber, who discussed Special Business Districts and Special Service Areas. Later presentations were from Madison and St. Clair County Economic Development Departments about Enterprise Zones. State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Regional Officials discussed the State’s new EDGE tax credit program.

America’s Central Port, IL-DCEO, Madison and St. Clair Counties helped sponsor these events, with assistance from the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois and Ameren Illinois.

The forums are held at the Metro-East Parks and Recreation District Offices located in Collinsville. They are intended to inform and educate local officials from southwestern Illinois about the various economic development programs available to their communities. Representatives from these agencies are present at each forum and are available for assistance to communities in these areas. America’s Central Port helped spearhead the effort to develop these forums to create more economic opportunities for the people of southwestern Illinois.

The first forum, held in June focused on what economic development is. The next forum scheduled for October will be about the importance of Planning and Development in a community. Later forums will focus on sustainability, job training and organizing a local economic development effort

NOTICE: Bissell Street Closure

Bissell Street will be closed to thru traffic beginning Monday, August 29, 2011 at 7:00 AM and will reopen to traffic by Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:00 PM.

All traffic shall enter the Port at Niedringhaus Avenue during this outage.

This outage will allow for the installation of three (3) grade crossings for the South Rail Loop which will serve the new South Harbor.

Any questions should be directed to Port Security at (618) 451-2449.

We appreciate your patience during this brief outage.

[frame_box][icon_link url=http://www.americascentralport.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Bissell-Street-Detour-Map.pdf color=black type=icon_paper] DOWNLOAD:   Bissell Street Detour Map[/icon_link] [/frame_box]

Abengoa Announces DOE Offer of Conditional Commitment for $133.9 Million Loan Guarantee to Build Inaugural Biomass Plant in United States

Abengoa has recently announced that they are working towards obtaining a $133.9 million dollar loan from the U.S. Department of Energy to construct their inaguaral biomass ethanol plant in the United States.  This plant is planned for construction in Hugoton, Kansas.

Abengoa Bioenergy of Illinois, LLC constructed an 88 million gallon a year ethanol plant at America’s Central Port in 2009.

You can read the full press release by Abengoa on their site HERE.

You can read more about Abengoa Bioenergy HERE.

BID ANNOUNCEMENT | Solar Thermal System

America’s Central Port has publicly advertised its C0053 – Solar Thermal Water Heating System Project for Building 193 which is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.  This project seeks to provide an energy efficient heating system and hot water for its short-term housing units.

To find out more about this project, or to obtain bidding specifications, please CLICK HERE.

New Inland Waterways Director Sworn in for Gateway Office of U.S. Maritime Administration

St. Louis, MO– On Friday, July 15, 2011, new US Department of Transportation Maritime Administration Gateway Regional Director William K. Paape was sworn into office in a short ceremony held in the Robert A. Young Federal Building in St. Louis, MO. Paape was sworn in by Mike O’Malley, an official with the US Department of Transportation MARAD office at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, William (Bill) Paape, brings a diverse strategic surface transportation, intermodal logistics and terminal operations background to the USDOT Maritime Administration. Bill is a career US Army Reserve Officer and received his Army commission in 1982 from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point through the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He served on active duty from 1983 to 1994 in a variety of company and battalion level assignments, which included tours with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the 29th Infantry regiment at Ft. Benning, Georgia and the 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Bill was commissioned in the US Maritime Service in September 1994 and served in staff in the Commandant’s Office and also was an adjunct Faculty member at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY through September of 2001. Mobilized after September 11, 2001, Bill served October 2001-October 2002 at Ft Eustis, VA as Commander of the Deployment Support Detachment with the Military Traffic Management Command, which provided deployment assistance and transportation planning at various installations throughout the US. He supported strategic seaports in Operation Enduring Freedom and provided deployment service expertise for barge movements in and out of Germany.

His other key assignments include command of a detachment in Kuwait, the 457th Transportation Battalion, the US Army Port Opening Element for US TRANSCOM’s Joint Task Force – Port Opening in New Jersey and Director of the Exercise and Future Ops Division, SDDC and TRANSCOM at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

As Director of the Inland Waterways Gateway Office, Bill’s area of responsibility includes portions of fifteen states adjacent to navigable rivers. This area includes the Upper Mississippi from the Minnesota headwaters to Memphis, Tennessee; the Missouri River from North Dakota to its mouth near St. Louis, MO; the Illinois Waterway from Chicago to its mouth near St. Louis, MO and the Ohio River from its headwaters in Pennsylvania to its mouth near Cairo, Illinois. His focus areas will be shallow draft inland marine transportation, inland port development, inland intermodal issues and inland marine security.

Bill has a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, a Masters Degree in International Relations from Troy State University, in Troy, Alabama and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.

America’s Central Green Team Get’s To Work Greening the Port and Community

Granite City- America’s Central Port moved closer to developing a “greener” port and surrounding community with the most recent efforts of their sustainability action team. This team, known as America’s Central Green Team, is made up of tenants, employees, Port and local businesses.  They are tasked with developing programs and policies to make the Port a more environmentally friendly place and to save operational dollars by creating more efficient programs and services. At their most recent meeting, the team adopted this new name as well as a mission statement:

America’s Central Port is committed to the health of our regional economy, southwestern Illinois and our environment. We operate our business in an environmentally sustainable manner and our responsibility is to the communities we serve; our tenants, staff and local partners. Our commitment is for responsible resource use, protection of environmental assets and making business decisions that recognize the balance between today and tomorrow.

The team also heard from Aspen Waste systems, who unveiled the beginning of the Port’s new recycling policy. Aspen will develop a series of recycling drop centers throughout the Port’s housing areas and will collect information from business tenants about their recycling needs. They will also expand the recycling facilities for the Port’s office campus.

D and R Energy from Alton, also a Team member, installed anemometers (above) at the Port to help measure the effectiveness of renewable wind energy as a power source for the Port. These systems were installed at the Port’s main office located at Building 100 and down at the riverfront at Lewis and Clark Marine’s operations docks. D and R is also reviewing the development of a demonstration project for solar power operation of the Security office and the Port’s main conference room.

The team also developed action areas that each team member will engage to help develop policies and procedures to eventually be adopted in a plan by the Port’s Board of Commissioners. Areas under review include; community engagement, consumption, indoor and outdoor environments, waste reduction, water and transportation.

Lewis & Clark Marine Interview

Paul Wellhausen, of Lewis & Clark Marine, was recently interviewed by Inbound Logistics. Lewis & Clark Marine is a tenant of America’s Central Port and provides barge switching services within the Metropolitan St. Louis Harbor.  You can read this great interview here:

http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/on-the-road-again-new-times-on-the-mississippi/

Metro East FEMA Levee Lawsuit Dismissed

Federal Emergency Management Agency Acknowledges that 2007 Decision to De-Accredit Area Levees “is no longer operative.” Judge Dismisses Levee Lawsuit.

COLLINSVILLE, IL August 2, 2010 — A Federal Judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by Metro East communities challenging levee de-accreditation after the defendant, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, announced in open court that it had abandoned its proposal to de-accredit the Metro East levee systems.

As a result, Judge J. Phil Gilbert held that the lawsuit, which challenged FEMA’s deaccreditation decision, was moot. The judge’s August 1, 2011 order noted in bolded type that “the Court wishes to make clear – to anyone with any interest whatsoever in the American Bottoms area, especially current prospective and formerly prospective residents and businesses of the region – that the levees of the American Bottoms are accredited and have been accredited at all times relevant to this lawsuit.”

The Metro East communities, including, Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties, filed suit in last year seeking to set aside FEMA’s proposed flood maps showing the Metro East levee systems as de-accredited. FEMA first announced its intention to de-accredit the levees in October 2007 letters to community leaders in the Metro East. Those letters cited “studies” performed by the Army Corps of Engineers. However, the FEMA attorney could not identify any basis for the decision, even after repeated questioning by Judge Gilbert. The agency did file a record of its proceedings with the court, but the record did not reveal any studies supporting the proposed de-accreditation of the levees.

FEMA specifically acknowledged in open court that the announcement made by FEMA in August 2007, subsequent communications with local governments, and preliminary flood insurance rate maps asserting that the levees are or will be de-accredited “are no longer operative.”

Based on FEMA’s recent decisions and statements made in oral argument, the Court concluded that the lawsuit is moot. Should FEMA issue new preliminary flood insurance rate maps, those maps would be subject to a new administrative appeal process before any final determination could be made. Should that determination once again result in a finding de-accrediting the levee system the lawsuit can be re-filed.

This decision affects most property owners in the American Bottom, who now will not be subject to mandatory flood insurance requirements and will be assured that flood insurance will remain widely available and affordable since the area is now shown as protected from flooding. It will also mean that local governments will not have to impose severe restrictions on new building in the area.

In August 2007 FEMA announced that the levee system protecting a large area in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties no longer provided protection from a 100-year flood, and those levees would effectively be removed from flood insurance maps. This would have meant that most homeowners and businesses in the 174 square mile area known as the American Bottom would have been required to purchase costly flood insurance. The total cost of flood insurance has been estimated at $50 million annually. Also, any new building would need to be raised to a level higher than the projected flood elevation, which might be as much as 15-20 feet higher than surrounding ground.

Alan Dunstan, County Board Chair of Madison County, said that, “while we are disappointed that we will not get to hold FEMA fully accountable at this time for their reckless decision made in 2007, the decision made by Judge Gilbert effectively affirms one of the central arguments of the suit — that FEMA made a decision to de-accredit the levee system that was not supported by any evidence. We took the step of filing this lawsuit reluctantly, but we continue to believe that we must do whatever is necessary to protect the rights of citizens and businesses of the area behind the levees.”

Mark Kern, County Board Chair of St. Clair County added that “it’s clear that we are not alone in having major problems with flood insurance maps. The fact that FEMA is voluntarily going back to the drawing board with the mapping process is an acknowledgement that that the preliminary maps were faulty. Unfortunately, it has taken several years for the agency to come to that conclusion, inflicting great economic harm on areas like ours. Our job now is to remind property owners and businesses that it is indeed safe to invest in the American Bottom.”

Although FEMA now acknowledges that area levees are now accredited as providing adequate flood protection, the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council is moving ahead quickly with plans to invest in the area’s levee systems so that there will be no doubt that they meet all applicable regulatory and engineering standards. “We want to do everything humanly possible to assure the residents and businesses of the area that our levee systems are safe and that we can answer any future challenge from FEMA. The doubts created by FEMA’s announcement in August, 2007 created economic hardship that we never want repeated,” said Les Sterman, Chief Supervisor of the Council.

 

Contact:

Les Sterman, Chief Supervisor
Direct: 618-343-9120
Mobile: 314-283-3299
email: Les.Sterman@floodpreventiondistrict.org