New Logistics Hub in Baltimore…

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on Monday visited the Tradepoint Atlantic industrial development near the Port of Baltimore to highlight the importance of U.S. ports as engines of economic development and competitiveness.

“As a country, we are investing too little, and as container ships grow larger and larger, more cargo must be unloaded into increasingly tight spaces,” the secretaries wrote in a blog posted on their respective department web sites. "Expanding trade will continue to put pressure on the existing system, increasing congestion and threatening U.S. economic competitiveness..." Additionally, “To support U.S. competitiveness in a global economy, it is essential that we expand, upgrade, modernize and maintain our maritime transportation infrastructure and strengthen our workforce.”

They pointed to the new FASTLane multi-modal grant program, the six-year-old TIGER grant program and the Build America Transportation Investment Center (a one-stop shop for project financing advice), as examples of how the administration has sought to increase investment in ports beyond the federal government’s traditional dredging responsibilities.

Dealing with port challenges, including congestion on highways leading to the important cargo gateways, requires industry and government to work together, the administration officials said. During their visit to Baltimore they held a roundtable meeting with leaders from the port, labor, transportation and retail industries on ways to modernize ports for future trade growth.

Tradepoint Atlantic, previously referred to as the Sparrows Point terminal, is a 3,100-acre transportation and logistics hub being built on the grounds of the former Bethlehem Steel Mill. The site offers access to a deepwater port, a turning basin, and a 1,150-foot pier immediately capable of accommodating heavy commodities.

The site also has 100 miles of on-site track and connections to Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern, as well as direct connections with two interstate highways. The marine terminal is expected to primarily handle bulk and breakbulk cargo.

The secretaries said Tradepoint Atlantic is part of an emerging logistics cluster around the Port of Baltimore that includes a large Amazon distribution center and a new manufacturing firm, Blueprint Robotics, that is scheduled to open this summer with 100 new employees.

Investment in port infrastructure can catalyze similar economic activity around the country, Foxx, Pritzker and Perez said.