After securing funding from two federal grant programs, the Alabama State Port Authority is partnering with two private South American corporations to develop and operate a $60 million vehicle processing roll-on roll-off facility at the Port of Mobile.
The facility is positioned to take advantage growth in Alabama’s automotive manufacturing industry, which exported $7.75 billion worth of cars in 2017 — making it the third largest among U.S. states.
In a press release, ASPA said it would create a new joint venture called AutoMobile International Terminal to build and operate the facility, which will include Brazilian port services company, Terminal Zárate S.A., and SAAM Puertos S.A., a Chilean foreign trade services company with a footprint in a half-dozen countries throughout the Americas.
Representatives from the three organizations, including ASPA President Jimmy Lyons, met Wednesday in Argentina to ink out the final agreement.
“This represents a key step in diversifying the Port Authority’s business while providing a strategic asset to regional automotive shippers,” Lyons said at the time.
The overall project represents a total investment of approximately $60 million, but more than half of the cost is being covered through federal grants.
The ASPA was recently awarded a $12.7 million Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) and secured another $28.8 million in the phase of funding associated with the RESTORE Act in March.
The project was one of the most broadly supported project proposals approved in the first wave of RESTORE funding and was touted by port officials as having a region-wide impact.
There have even been some suggestions that a nearby RO/RO facility could help lure a manufacturing client to Baldwin County’s $32 million Megasite near Bay Minette.
The concessionaire agreement facilitates the private sector partner contribution toward the facility and will put construction on schedule to begin by the end of the year with a targeted completion date at the end of 2019.
The new terminal will make use of approximately 57 acres at the Port of Mobile that was previously occupied by a now-derelict bulk material handling facility.
With a 40-foot ship draft, connections to five railroads and easy access to Interstates 65 and 10, the area was considered a prime space for the construction what is expected to be a state-of-the-art facility.