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The Alabama State Port Authority and APM Terminals announced on Wednesday a $49.5 million expansion of the container facility at the Port of Mobile.

The Port Authority and APM Terminals will jointly deliver a Phase 3 expansion that includes a dock extension and an additional 20 acres of improved yard to maintain excess capacity to accommodate new business opportunities, officials said. When completed, the project will accommodate an annual throughput capacity of 650,000 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs. TEU refers to the length of a standard shipping container and is used by the shipping industry to measure container capacity.

“The Phase 3 expansion enables us to stay well ahead of the growth pattern we’ve seen in the Port of Mobile, as well as add dock space to support the growing vessel sizes that are coming to the terminal,” said Brian Harold, managing director for APM Terminals Mobile. “It will help us maintain the efficiency levels our customers have come to expect, while also creating the extra capacity needed to support potential future economic growth in our market.”

The expansion is part of a five-phase, long-term plan to grow the terminal’s annual throughput capacity to 1.5 TEUs. As part of the Phase 3 project, a 400-foot dock extension, super Post-Panamax crane rails, and upgrades to the fender system will accommodate 14,000 TEU ships. The 20-acre yard expansion will ensure excess capacity at the terminal to accommodate new shipper and carrier business opportunities, officials said. The dock extension will take approximately 24 months to complete, while the yard will take 18 months to complete.

The Phase 3 project follows the Port’s recently-completed Phase 2 expansion, which added 20 acres to the Port and included the installation of two new super Post-Panamax cranes to serve new business through the terminal, including containers bound for Walmart’s new 2.6 million square foot import distribution center near Mobile. Officials said the Phase 3 expansion will also compliment the recently-completed Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, which is accessible by five Class I railroads, including the Canadian National, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern and BNSF. Currently, the Canadian National provides container intermodal rail service to key U.S. mid-west and Canadian markets.

“Container intermodal growth continues to drive investment at the Port of Mobile,” said James K. Lyons, chief executive of the Alabama State Port Authority.

Since 2005, the Port Authority and its partners have invested $535 million in shore-side and channel improvements to support the larger ships calling the Port of Mobile.

“These prior investments have competitively positioned the port and established Mobile as an alternate gateway for U.S. trade,” Lyons added. “This expansion and our planned harbor deepening and widening program will provide both shippers and carriers with a cost effective, customer service oriented option.”

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers harbor modernization study is also underway at the Port of Mobile with a record of decision expected by year-end 2019.

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