The U.S. Department of Transportation gave the North Carolina State Ports Authority an $18 million grant to effectively eliminate 250,000 truckloads annually.
Part of the U.S. DOT’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, the taxpayer money has been earmarked to advance the North Carolina port’s intermodal rail facility, diverting containers that would have been hauled by truck to freight rail.
“The last couple of years have certainly brought a number of challenges for supply chains, but we’ve made a lot of progress, both on port and off, and we anticipate a bright future, based on the investments being made and coming online,” Brian E. Clark, executive director N.C. NC Ports, reportedly said. “The last couple of years have certainly brought a number of challenges for supply chains, but we’ve made a lot of progress, both on port and off, and we anticipate a bright future, based on the investments being made and coming online.”
North Carolina has avoided much of the logjams experienced at other ports by consistently investing in modernization. In 2020, the North Carolina Ports Authority received $16 million through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program. The funding was part of a $200 million five-year plan to triple the size of container storage and pickup yards, improve gate technologies, and widen ingress and egress roads to seven and six lanes, respectively.
Taxpayer investment in the Port of Wilmington and Port of Morehead City have reportedly exceeded $300 million. Clark, who is leading the charge to expand the state’s port capacity and transition to freight rail, was named chief operating officer in 2017. He earned a promotion to executive director in 2021 and was recently appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee.
Under Clark’s direction, the Port of Wilmington brought a state-of-the-art container interchange gate complex online in February, taking full advantage of the now 13 truck lanes. The project also added a Navis N4 terminal operating system and access portal for truck transportation professionals.
The second phase of a next-generation refrigerated container yard is underway. It includes 700 new reefer plugs, bringing the facility’s total capacity to 1,500. A Cold Summit Development is expected to kick off by the end of 2022 that would add upwards of 280,000 square feet of cold storage on port-owned property approximately one mile off-site.
Private investors are reportedly building a 300,000-square-foot facility 13 miles from the gate. Port City Logistics Inc plans to construct a 150,000-square-foot cross-dock facility on port-owned property near the Wilmington gate.
“We’re extremely excited about the private investment that’s taking place, not just on our property but near-port as well,” Clark reportedly said.
At the Port of Morehead City, $30 million is being invested in berth and warehouse construction.