Lumber and building materials help grow Port Canaveral freight business
Piles of lumber and plywood continue to pile up in Port Canaveral as freighters deliver load after load to meet the demands of the Florida construction industry.
It was lumber that helped Port Canaveral set a freight record for the fiscal year that ended September 30, with freight revenues rising to $ 11.14 million, up 16% from $ 9.63 million last year.
âCargo is strong,â said Port Canaveral general manager John Murray, and has helped the port get through its 16-and-a-half-month shutdown of multi-day cruises due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cruises resumed on July 31.
Now, the port is working on a major upgrade to its freight facilities which should help manage the influx of freighters into the port.
The main effort underway is a $ 48.7 million project to build a replacement berth at North Cargo Berth 3. This project will allow wider vessels in the fairway and replace obsolete jetty facilities.
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Murray said the 2020-2021 budget year was particularly strong for lumber and other construction-related commodities.
The volume of timber entering the port increased by 84% in 2020-2021, compared to the previous fiscal year.
Other construction-related commodities also performed well in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
For example, port shipments of slag increased 49% in the last fiscal year. Slag is a by-product of the steel production process and is used in a similar way to cement in the construction industry.
In addition, shipments of aggregates such as granite and limestone that are used in road construction increased by 33% last year.
The current fiscal year also got off to a strong start, with lumber shipments of 76,891 tonnes in October, up 68% from 45,851 tonnes in October 2020.
âYou will find plywood all over this port,â Murray said. “You can’t find a corner of the harbor that doesn’t have wood stacked in it.”
Looking for options
âWe have more than we have space to say,â said Murray. “We are now getting to a point where lumber shippers are asking that we can manage their cargo before we put it on the ship in the foreign locations that ship it, simply because it has gotten so tight here at the port. . We’re looking at more options on the north side (of the harbor) to accommodate more lumber at this point. We have a lot of volume to come. “
Murray said the port even had to dispel false rumors that Port Canaveral was hoarding lumber because it was piled up everywhere, waiting to be picked up by lumber distributors after it ran out. out of the freighters.
âIt’s harder to get it out on trucks as fast as it is to get it off the ship, which is why it’s piled up everywhere,â Murray said.
Murray said the port has looked for creative ways to accommodate the lumber from arriving by cargo ship until trucks pick it up to take it to its final destination.
Otherwise, freight companies will ship it to other ports, “and that’s not what we want,” Murray said. “So we’re going to figure out how to take it here. We’re not refusing business. We have to be creative.”
This will include freeing up underutilized space at the port for temporary timber storage.
âThere’s a lot of wood and it’s a good problem to have,â said Murray.
âLumber and slag continue to be high production items for us,â said CFO Michael Poole.
Optimistic freight tenants
During his recent presentation on the state of the port, Murray said freight tenants at the port are optimistic for the year ahead. He noted, for example, that:
Ambassador Services International – the port’s largest cargo terminal operator – expects continued growth in a product line, from wood products to refrigerated food products.
Lehigh Hanson is making improvements to its slag handling operations at the port, a project expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Seaport Canaveral, which manages petroleum products, expects imports of gasoline and aviation fuel to grow as road and air transport modes recover from a lull linked to the pandemic. The company also recently completed a $ 16.4 million upgrade to its fuel line system at the port.
âSome of our partners have a lot to do and we are delighted to help and support them,â said Murray.
Clyde Mathis, vice president of cruise and cargo operations at the port, noted that the port’s mobile harbor crane – the largest of its kind in North America – is increasingly used, both for traditional cargo and for space launch components returning to port. .
Charging station upgrade begins
At the same time, work is starting on the North Cargo Berth 3 project at the port.
The project, when completed, will allow the port to accommodate cargo ships up to 135 feet wide, according to William Crowe, vice president of engineering, construction and facilities at the port.
âSo it’s a really big ship,â Crowe said. “This is going to do a lot for our freight portfolio.”
In September, port commissioners awarded the project to Rush Marine of Titusville.
Funding for the project will come largely from grants from the United States Maritime Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Crowe said the project will take around 18 to 20 months.
âIt’s a long-term project,â Crowe said. “But then you’ll see us using this brand new berth in 2023 to take cargo from Port Canaveral.”
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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Shipments of Lumber and Solid Building Materials to Port Canaveral