USA: Chairman Issues Update on Philadelphia Port’s Progress
Charles G. Kopp, Esq., Chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, issued an update on recent progress at the Port of Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) is an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania charged with the management, maintenance, marketing, and promotion of publicly-owned port facilities along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, as well as strategic planning throughout the port district. PRPA works with its terminal operators to modernize, expand, and improve its facilities, and to market those facilities to prospective port users. Port cargoes and the activities they generate are responsible for thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the Philadelphia area and throughout Pennsylvania.
Chairman Kopp’s update reminded area residents and the business community at large that, due to the ongoing strong support of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Port of Philadelphia has lately been able to fulfill its mandate more efficiently than ever before. With 4,418,674 metric tons of cargo handled at the Port of Philadelphia in 2012 compared to the 4,001,759 tons handled in 2011, the maritime facilities of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) showed a healthy 10.42% gain in cargoes handled last year. “While the national and world economy still challenges our efforts in many ways, our most recent annual cargo statistics again demonstrate that the Port of Philadelphia is on the right track,” said Chairman Kopp. “We see even greater growth for the future.”
“I think it is important at this time,” he said, “to remind the public that high-profile initiatives like the Delaware River Channel Deepening Project and the new Southport Marine Terminal, vitally important as they are, aren’t the only port projects benefitting from strong Commonwealth support. This fact is no more apparent than in the area of capital investment. Since 2011, under Governor Corbett, $120 million has been delegated, released, or is about to be released for a variety of port investment. To give some perspective, these are funds in addition to the $50.8 million the Commonwealth has released for channel deepening.”
In his statement, Chairman Kopp provided additional details on the state’s capital support. “Most recently, on January 14,” said Chairman Kopp, “the Office of the Governor authorized $25 million for deferred facility maintenance projects throughout the Port, following on the heels of the $25 million released for that purpose for FY 2011/12.”
Capital investment since 2011 has included substantial maintenance to the Port’s facilities and infrastructure, including repairs and enhancements to the Port’s fenders, pilings, fire suppression systems, roofs, and paving.
The levels of investment have been impressive. All PRPA facilities have benefitted from the Port’s capital program, with the following highlights standing out: PRPA’s Forest Products Distribution Center is undergoing more than $16 million in maintenance and investment; Pier 82 is receiving more than $9 million for same; Tioga Marine Terminal is benefitting from more than $20 million; and the Tioga Liquid Bulk Terminal has already received more than $6 million in investment. Substantial funds were also used for projects at Pier 84 (almost $5 million) and Pier 122 (almost $1 million), as well as crane maintenance throughout the Port (over $250,000). The Corbett administration has also been committed to ongoing maintenance dredging of PRPA’s channel and berths, another vital activity made possible by the Governor’s $120 million capital budget. $9 million is designated for that purpose.
A chief beneficiary of PRPA’s capital program is the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port’s largest and busiest facility, which is anticipated to receive upwards of $50 million in facility investments. “PRPA has recognized that an ongoing commitment to maintain Packer Avenue’s facilities, capabilities, and infrastructure is necessary to assure the terminal’s continued success in attracting new carriers and cargoes,” said Chairman Kopp. “The recent decision of Horizon Lines, Inc. to move its northeast terminal operations from Elizabeth, New Jersey to the Packer Avenue Main Terminal is a great development for the Port of Philadelphia.”
A strategic plan developed by the engineering and port planning firm Moffatt & Nichol, initiatives developed by PRPA’s Marketing Department, and ongoing discussions with PRPA’s terminal operators have all worked together to guide the board in deciding what investments should be made. But without the commitment of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s support, such decisions would be moot.
Chairman Kopp noted, “Since PRPA’s creation in 1990 as an independent state agency to run the Port of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth has been very supportive of our efforts here. Governor Rendell has always been a strong supporter of the Philadelphia Port and Governor Corbett and his administration have continued this support in a grand fashion. In addition to his support of capital projects for the Port, Governor Corbett advanced millions of dollars to allow work to continue on our 45-foot channel deepening project, which encouraged the Federal Government to start funding its share of the project. Also, I should acknowledge the critical bi-partisan support of our congressional delegation, especially Senators Robert Casey and Pat Toomey; Congressmen Bob Brady and Pat Meehan; and numerous state officials, especially longtime project champion, State Representative Bill Keller. They were all integral partners in the success of the project, as well.”
Continuing on the topic, Chairman Kopp said, “The Port expects thousands of good-paying jobs to come to Philadelphia once the deepening of the Delaware River is completed. The future for the Port looks extremely bright as an economic engine for the production of good-paying jobs for the working families of Pennsylvania.”
“The establishment of new funding streams is another way Governor Corbett may want to assist the Port’s efforts”, Chairman Kopp continued. “Governor Corbett has been working with the legislature to develop innovative, more efficient ways to fund the Port in the future, such as the development of a “Multi-modal” fund that could fall under the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. This could provide regular, more predictable funding to the Port, while ultimately lowering costs to PRPA and its terminal operators.”
Returning to the main topic of his announcement, Chairman Kopp concluded, “But it’s been our capital program where the state’s commitment has truly stood out. $120 million is being spent to make structural improvements, improve safety, expand rail infrastructure, add on-dock storage, retrofit our cranes, the list goes on and on. And I want to add one important fact: Like our deepening project, if the Commonwealth didn’t see capital funding as an investment that will pay off, we wouldn’t have seen a dollar of those funds. Our capital program will result in continued support by the Port’s current customers and the attraction of new carriers, who will bring new labor-intensive cargoes to the Port of Philadelphia. We’ve already seen this when state support helped bring Hyundai and Kia here in 2010, and I’m positive it will continue to bring new carriers and new business to the planned port expansion at Southport, to the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal (e.g. Horizon) and to our other fine facilities in the near future.”
Press Release, March 22, 2013