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  December 21st, 2016 | Written by

Port Manatee Opens Expanded South Gate

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  • Port Manatee expansion facilitates extra-large project cargoes.
  • Liquefied natural gas heat exchangers manufactured across the road from Port Manatee.
  • Three-quarters of Port Manatee project funding came from federal grant.

Offering enhanced capabilities for movement of oversized cargo, Port Manatee’s newly expanded south gate complex is now open.

A ribbon-cutting formally last week celebrated completion of the $1.1 million project, which features new gates, a guard kiosk, canopy, and lighting, as well as reconfigured security fencing.

Widened entry and exit lanes facilitate safe and efficient accommodation of extra-large project cargoes, including massive liquefied natural gas heat exchangers being manufactured at the Air Products Port Manatee facility across U.S. 41 from the port.

“This expanded gate complex literally opens up Port Manatee to a new era in the handling of oversized project cargoes,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director.

Betsy Benac, who served as chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority while the project was advanced, noted that three-quarters of project funding came via a federal grant.

“We are grateful to our federal partners for recognizing the importance of this project not just to our port’s ability to safely and securely move cargo, but also to our nation’s advancement of global commerce,” Benac said.

Throughout the six-month construction process, all port traffic was routed via the north gate complex, which remains Port Manatee’s primary point of entry and exit.

Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal and Cuba’s Port of Mariel, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.