At the Port of Philadelphia, two super post-Panamax gantry cranes, as large as any in the world, will arrive in early March. The first ship taking used-car exports will leave Philadelphia for Africa next month, and the largest ship ever to sail up the Delaware River will dock here in January with cargo from South America.
“Construction of the warehousing improvements will all be done in 2018, a really significant growth expansion process,” said Gregory Iannarelli, senior director of business development and chief counsel for the port, known as PhilaPort.
The first two cranes, as big as any in New York Harbor, are on their way from Shanghai, China. Port officials recently announced the $23.5 million purchase of two additional New Panamax-size container gantry cranes, which will arrive in April 2019 and enable Philadelphia to double container cargo volumes and create jobs.
The changes came after the Wolf administration pledged $300 million, the first major capital investment in four decades for terminal improvements, wharves, warehouses, and cranes. The state is landlord and owner of 16 piers and terminals on the Delaware River.
PhilaPort, which leases and manages the piers and terminals, spent $10 million in June to buy the former Produce and Seafood Terminal from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. The 29-acre parcel at Third Street and Pattison Avenue will be used to relocate warehouses and increase container capacity at Packer Avenue.
All these improvements at the port are expected to create up to 2,000 waterfront jobs, and nearly 7,000 total jobs for truckers, rail workers, suppliers, and port-related businesses over the next decade.
“Right now, we can’t build fast enough,” said port CEO Jeff Theobald. “We have to get through this construction as quickly as possible to get those jobs going. And then move on to Phase Two. Clearly, we need more warehouse space. We’re trying to look at properties available.”
Holt Logistics, which operates the Packer terminal for PhilaPort, has shifted empty containers, chassis, and other equipment from the main yard to a 45-acre lot next door, increasing space at the dock. Containerized cargoes are up about 20 percent over last year, said Eric Holt, vice president of sales and marketing.
“The goal right now is to free up as much terminal operating area as possible, because the number of containers has grown to the point where, if we don’t, we’re going to become congested,” Holt said.