On Friday, November 3, 2023, Port of Palm Beach District Board of Commissioners celebrated the commencement of construction for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).
“This project represents a significant step towards a more efficient, eco-friendly and job stimulating future for the Port of Palm Beach, Florida’s fourth busiest container port,” Board Chairwoman Dr. Jean L. Enright said.
The groundbreaking ceremony featured key speakers including Port Executive Director Michael Meekins, Chairwoman Dr. Enright, and U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration Director of the South Atlantic Gateway Region Branden Villalona.
The PIDP will encompass the following key enhancements:
- Redesign the main port gate off MLK Blvd., facilitating additional lanes inside the Port for trucks to efficiently transport cargo.
- Adding an improved truck processing system that will slash incoming container truck wait times by an impressive 50% thereby reducing emissions from the Port.
- A substantial 116% increase in annual freight rail capacity, from 44,000 TEUs to nearly 100,000 TEUs per year. The addition of new rail tracks will provide more storage for railcars within the port.
- Expanding the intermodal rail capacity will remove 29,000 truck trips annually from the already congested Interstate 95 corridor and the surface transportation network between the Port and the interstate.
- Creation of at least 105 direct jobs during the construction phase, further bolstering the local economy.
“Each project element serves on a small scale to enhance connectivity among three modes of transportation at the Port - waterborne, intermodal freight rail, and truck carried,” Executive Director Meekins said.
In 2020, the U.S. Department of Administration awarded the Port of Palm Beach a $13.2 million Port Infrastructure grant to support this more than $20M project.
"The Port of Palm Beach's grant will address aging port infrastructure and space limitations to maximize container throughput. This will improve the movement of goods through the port. This rail facility will reduce roadway congestion, enhance transportation infrastructure, and improve road safety.” said MARAD South Atlantic Gateway Director Villalona.
The Port of Palm Beach plays a unique role among U.S. ports, with a remarkable 80% of the handled cargo being exported. As a crucial link to the island nations, particularly the Bahamas, the Port witnessed a 3.8% annual growth in containerized cargo in fiscal year 2022.
“The investment we are making today will ensure the Port of Palm Beach can reach and maintain a maximum container throughput of 500,00 twenty-foot containers (TEUs) per year,” Executive Director Meekins said.