Chesterton Tribune



Ports of Indiana had banner year in 2017

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The Ports of Indiana handled 11.8 million tons in 2017, a 5-percent increase over 2016 and the second-highest annual shipment total in the organization's 57-year history.

According to a statement released today. “This was the fourth-consecutive year that the Ports of Indiana handled over 10 million tons of cargo, the only four years this has been accomplished. The ports' average annual shipments in 2014-17 totaled over 45 million tons, exceeding the previous four-year average by nearly 50 percent.”

Major cargo increases for the Ports in 2017 included coal the following: steel (14 percent), fertilizer (14 percent), ethanol (14 percent), limestone (26 percent), and minerals (28 percent). Shipments of heavy lift and project cargoes--such as wind turbines, laboratory equipment, and mega storage tanks--saw a 27-percent increase.

“Ports of Indiana experienced a historic year and we look forward to extending our growth spurt in 2018,” Ports CEO Rich Cooper said.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, for its part, handled 2.8 million tons in 2017 completing the highest three-year total in the port's history. Steel shipments were up 38 percent and large-dimensional cargoes increased nearly 27 percent, including the most valuable shipment ever to pass through Indiana's ports: ICARUS, the world's largest liquid argon particle hunter, which was handled in July 2017. Also in July, the country's oldest stevedoring company--Metro Ports--became the new bulk terminal operator and immediately doubled the size of the port's bulk terminal.

Meanwhile, major port expansions are also being planned at the Burns Harbor facilities, supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation's TIGER and FASTLANE grant programs. In 2017, Burns Harbor earned one of only 10 small project grants in the country awarded through the FASTLANE program. The approximately $20 million expansion will be developed over the next few years and include the construction of two rail yards, a new shipping berth, a truck marshalling yard, 1,200 foot expansion of a cargo dock, and a new cargo terminal with multimodal connections for handling cargo transfers between ships, barges, rail cars, and trucks.

“Investing in our infrastructure is critical to the ports' ongoing growth,” Ports Vice-president Jody Peacock said. “Developing new cargo terminals, unit train capabilities, and intermodal facilities are required to maintain a modern port system that provides our customers with access to global markets and a sustainable competitive advantage. All three of our ports also became ‘fiber ready’ in 2017, and we're continuing to look for ways our ports can add value for existing businesses and attract new multimodal companies to Indiana.”

The Ports of Indiana is also exploring the opportunity to expand its three-port system by adding a new port in Southeast Indiana, inside the Cincinnati metropolitan area. In 2017, the Ports of Indiana entered into an agreement to purchase up to 725 acres of land along the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg and Aurora, Ind., as the potential home of a fourth state port. More than 80 percent of the original land purchase to build Indiana's ports has been developed and the state has not opened a port since 1985. The Ports of Indiana will be conducting due diligence on the site throughout 2018.

Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority managing three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan.


Posted 2/14/2018




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