PALMETTO, Florida – Port Manatee is advancing an $8.3 million project to nearly double the size of its dockside container yard with approval today [Tuesday, July 28] of a construction contract by the Manatee County Port Authority.

The container yard expansion, targeted for June 2021 completion, promises to add 9.3 acres to the existing 10-acre paved facility adjoining Port Manatee’s Berth 12 and 14 docks.

“Expansion of the dockside container yard to encompass 19.3 acres not only will accommodate dynamic demand from such longtime users as Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping and Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. but also will literally and figuratively pave the way for further global commerce opportunities at our flourishing seaport,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director. “The expansion project is a cornerstone of the two-year, $38 million capital enhancement initiative under way at Port Manatee.”

World Direct Shipping, among the fastest-growing U.S. container lines, has been importing produce and other goods from Mexico since 2014, while Del Monte, in its fourth decade operating at Port Manatee, brings in bananas, pineapples and avocados from Central and South America.

The newly awarded construction contract with Crisdel Group Inc. of Tampa is for $7,890,197.90, with that amount equally divided between port funds and a Florida Department of Transportation grant. Engineering work is being completed under a separate $413,578 contract with Stantec, also of Tampa.

The construction undertaking includes paving, drainage infrastructure and high-mast lighting, as well as the installation of 150 new electrical receptacles for plugging in refrigerated cargo containers, to bring Port Manatee’s total contingent of such reefer plugs to 600.

“In these challenging times for our nation, Port Manatee continues to thrive as a vital economic engine for our region and beyond, serving as a preferred gateway for numerous key commodities,” said Priscilla Whisenant Trace, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority. “With the expansion of container yard capabilities, Port Manatee is opening the proverbial door for even greater international trade and accompanying well-paying jobs.”

Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impact while providing for more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, all without benefit of local property tax support.


Port Manatee’s dockside container yard is being nearly doubled in size, to 19.3 acres, through an $8.3 million project that is a cornerstone of the port’s two-year, $38 million capital enhancement initiative.

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