Port news in Benton, Wash., and Kiln, Miss.

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Port news from the Pacific and Gulf coasts
David C. Lester

Port news that will strengthen intermodal rail and help the supply chain has been reported around the country.

Port of Benton–lease with rail operator terminated

The Port of Benton terminated its lease with the Tri-City Railroad Company, LLC (“TCRY”) as operator of the port’s Southern Connection rail network. The 16-mile rail line runs between Center Parkway in Kennewick and Horn Rapids Road in north Richland.

The lease termination follows a ruling from Benton County Superior Court in May that found Tri-City Railroad was in default of its lease with the Port because the company had not properly maintained the rail system.

A final settlement agreement which established how the transition would occur became effective June 17, 2022. As a result of this agreement, the Port will assess existing tenancies at 2579 Stevens Drive and begin to negotiate new leases ahead of becoming the primary lessor on August 1, 2022.

For rail-related emergencies, problems or needs at the 2579 Stevens Drive building in Richland, contact Port of Benton at 509-375-3060. This is a 24-hour monitored phone system.

The port is currently establishing a contract with RailWorks to coordinate rail inspections and maintenance on the line until a new line operator is secured. Additionally, Advance Signal & Contracting will be taking over signal maintenance and inspection.

For more information, read the Port’s press release here.

Port Bienville–new dock and railroad construction

Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission (HCPHC) continues construction of a new maritime dock and railroad facility at Port Bienville Industrial Park.

The $8.8 million project includes a 600-foot bulkhead with a 40-foot apron which can accommodate three barges for loading and unloading. A 250-foot crushed stone laydown yard will extend from the apron for operations and storage.

The project also includes two Port Bienville Shortline Railroad track extensions to serve the dock with rail-to-barge intermodal operations. Access roads will also be improved for truck and other vehicle traffic.

Known as the RESTORE Dock, the project was funded by a $7.4 million RESTORE Act grant in 2017. An additional $510,000 in funding came from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s GOMESA program. HCPHC contributed the remaining $870,000.

“Port and Harbor Commission is committed to growing economic opportunities,” CEO Bill Cotter. “Thanks to the support of federal, state and local partners, this infrastructure investment will support business operations and continued growth of our maritime business.”

The construction project was awarded to Gill’s Crane and Dozer Service, Inc., of Slidell, for $7.4 million. Notice to proceed work was issued in May 2021, and the project is expected to be completed this fall.

The RESTORE Dock is part of a 35-acre parcel on the industrial canal at Port Bienville. With maritime, rail and road access, the intermodal facility could support transload operations, bulk material handling, liquid transfer and warehousing for import/export businesses.

Each year, about 480,000 tons of material move across Port Bienville’s public and private docks. When it is completed, RESTORE Dock will be the fifth public dock in HCPHC’s portfolio. Two additional docks are owned by industrial tenants at the port.

“The Port and Harbor Commission continues to invest for the future of Hancock County,” said CEO Bill Cotter. “Our industrial assets provide the logistical solutions that allow existing tenants to expand and attract new businesses to the area.”

With its 12-foot-deep industrial canal, Port Bienville provides access to the Intracoastal Waterway via the Pearl River. Connecting Port Bienville to CSX, Port Bienville Railroad boasts 17 miles of track and processes over 8,000 loaded railcars a year. The industrial park is home to 16 companies employing nearly 700 people.

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