Port Manatee opens expanded south gate
PALMETTO, Fla. - Offering enhanced capabilities for movement of oversized cargo, Port Manatee's newly expanded south gate complex is now open.
A Thursday (Dec. 15) ribbon-cutting formally celebrated completion of the $1.1 million project, which features new gates, guard kiosk, canopy and lighting, as well as reconfigured security fencing.
Widened entry and exit lanes facilitate safe, efficient accommodation of extra-large project cargos, including massive liquefied natural gas heat exchangers being manufactured at the Air Products Port Manatee facility across U.S. 41 from the port.
"This expanded gate complex literally opens up Port Manatee to a new era in the handling of oversized project cargos," said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee's executive director.
Betsy Benac, who served as chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority while the project was advanced, noted that three-quarters of project funding came via a federal grant.
"We are grateful to our federal partners for recognizing the importance of this project not just to our port's ability to safely and securely move cargo, but also to our nation's advancement of global commerce," Benac said.
Throughout the six-month construction process, all port traffic was routed via the north gate complex, which remains Port Manatee's primary point of entry and exit.
Located "Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico," Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanding Panama Canal and Cuba's Port of Mariel, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.
Participants in a Dec. 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Port Manatee's expanded south gate complex include, from left, Charles B. Smith, Manatee County Port Authority; Robin DiSabatino, Manatee County Port Authority; Angelina "Angel" Colonneso, Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court; Vanessa Baugh, incoming chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority; Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee executive director; Betsy Benac, outgoing chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority; Priscilla Whisenant Trace, Manatee County Port Authority; Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Port Authority; and Stephen R. Jonsson, Manatee County Port Authority.