U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Sign a $8.5 Million grant agreement for the new South Harbor at America’s Central Port
America’s Central Port today celebrated the signing of an $8.5 million TIGER grant that will assist in funding construction of the new South Harbor at the Port. The celebration included U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello and Chris Standlee with Abengoa Bioenergy Ethanol, along with leadership and tenants from America’s Central Port and dozens of other civic and business leaders from across the Metro East.
Grants for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Program (TIGER Grants) are a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Last year, the port was successful in obtaining a $6 million grant for the first phase of the South Harbor project to install new levee relief wells and 9600 track feet of new main line rail that will serve the new harbor facility.
Rendering of the new South Harbor at America’s Central Port
According to Dennis Wilmsmeyer, Executive Director of the Port District, “The new South Harbor is one step closer to reality. With the major federal, state and local funding in place, initial site work of a major new harbor south of Locks 27 on the Mississippi River is now underway. This new harbor, known as the South Harbor, is a key element of America’s Central Port intermodal transit gateway and will connect major rail lines and four interstate highways with a lock-free, public inland waterway of national and regional significance. This new harbor will create a new global maritime gateway, utilizing the marine highway of the Mississippi river to transport cargo from Chicago, Illinois and points north to the ports of the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.”
The Port’s role as a job-creating engine for the region was also touted by Congressman Costello. “There are more private sector jobs at America’s Central Port today than there were government jobs when it was the Army Support Center. This funding commitment will support important waterway infrastructure improvements at the Port which in turn will support future growth. These infrastructure investments create the environment where job creation happens.”
Secretary Lahood noted that these grant funds were awarded from projects that could not get started and were left over from previous grant rounds. He was glad to work with Congressman Costello to see to it that the funds were awarded for this project.
“We greatly appreciate the Maritime Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation’s confidence in this project as demonstrated through these grant awards,” notes Wilmsmeyer. “And we also want to thank Congressman Costello for his strong support of these grants and our port. We’re excited to have the Congressman and Secretary LaHood with us again today to get this project underway.” Both Lahood and Congressman Costello were on hand last year for the initial grant award.
The region’s newest strategic intermodal global gateway will provide a seamless connection between river, road and rail systems in the heart of America. It links major agricultural and industrial freight generators and population centers at a global gateway. Connecting these networks at the new South harbor creates the perfect union and cost-effective freight interchange, allowing the flow and economically competitive transfer of dry bulk, liquid products and general cargo.
The new South harbor will handle exports of agricultural products from Midwest growers and shippers, as well as handling imports of products for the heartland. Regionally, the project is also significant because it encourages shippers along the new marine inland river highways to use the new harbor, saving time and money. Increased efficiency and reduction of freight transportation costs, particularly for American agricultural dry bulk products, will enhance US export competitiveness creating lasting economic and environmental sustainability benefits to the Nation and its citizens.