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August 29, 2018 12:29 pm EST

Port of Halifax outlines plan to expand south-end container terminal

The container ship Zim Alabama unloads at the South End Container Terminal in Halifax on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The Halifax Port Authority has unveiled its “vision of the future,” with plans to expand its south-end container terminal to accommodate for larger, “ultra-class vessels.”

Port of Halifax spokesperson Lane Farguson says the first phase of the project is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2019 and be completed sometime in 2020.

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“The big reason that we’re doing this is the evolution that’s taking place in the shipping industry right now,” said Farguson. “The ships are getting bigger, and we really need to make sure that we have the capacity and the infrastructure in place to continue to be a part of that evolution.”

“If we don’t make the room in Halifax, our concern is the ships are going to leave us behind.”

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The port currently has the capacity to serve only one of those vessels, but Farguson says within the next one to five years, they need the capacity to berth and service two of those vessels simultaneously.

“A temporary extension over at the south-end container terminal will give us that capacity that we need as we head into 2020,” said Farguson.

The plan is to extend the existing pier at Halterm to 135 metres long and 65 metres wide, resulting in a temporary extension south.

As part of the expansion plan, the port authority anticipates a reduction of truck traffic in the city’s south end. Farguson says current plans in place have already been effective, including a ramp in Moncton that regulates imports and exports, as well as digitizing information on truck wait times online.

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“We’re hopeful that this information will be helpful in allowing dispatchers to take a look at what the real-time information is, and then try to schedule deliveries outside of peak congestion times,” Farguson explains.

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For the second phase of the expansion project, the Port of Halifax is looking to take the existing south-end container terminal and expand it north. They’re also looking at the possibility of having a container yard in both Burnside and Trenton for empty containers.

The project is expected to cost between $30 million and $35 million, covered by the Halifax Port Authority.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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