Mobile, AL

Thanks to Senator Richard Shelby's Vision & Passion, Port of Mobile is the 'Fastest Growing Container Port in the U.S.'

Zack Love

Expansion projects to the Port of Mobile came about as a result of Senator Richard Shelby's passion over the past 20 years, and it’s now paying off, as Mobile is being recognized as the "fastest growing container port in the U.S."

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Port of MobilePhoto byAlabama Port Authority

It’s official. Senator Richard Shelby’s last scheduled trip to Mobile as a U.S. Senator is set for 9 December 2022.

In honor of his retirement, the City of Mobile will have a dedication at 3 p.m. to name a location that overlooks the Mobile River in downtown Mobile, which is “near the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center as ‘Shelby Point’.” (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

It is very fitting for Alabama’s longest-serving senator that worked very hard to secure $100 million* to benefit the Port of Mobile and the commercial airport at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

*The $100 million is referring to state revenues through the “Rebuild Alabama Act of 2019” used to widen and deepen the Port of Mobile.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson spoke about Senator Shelby’s contribution to the Port of Mobile.

She said:

“The Port of Mobile has driven our economy for over a century, and thanks to Senator Shelby, we have extended the life of this economic engine for another 100 years,” -Mayor Sandy Stimpson (Source: AL.comSharp)

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby Has a Passion for the Port of Mobile

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U.S. Senator Richard ShelbyPhoto byPublic domain

AL.com reported on 22 November 2022 about U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s personal interest to widen and deepen the ship channel in Mobile began two decades ago, after learning about how they did this at one of the world’s busiest seaports, in Singapore.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl was curious about this back when he was Mobile County Commissioner, and why Senator Richard Shelby was making this a priority. Carl was elected to Congress in 2020 and took notice that Richard Shelby “had a vision” and “a passion” for the Port of Mobile. (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

Senator Richard Shelby said in an interview with AL.com:

“It was one of the great ports of the world,” said Shelby, recalling the trip he made in the 1990s. “They were showing me how they were deepening the harbor so they could have the largest and biggest ships in the world come to Singapore. I thought of Mobile. I didn’t know how deep the (Mobile) harbor was. 42 feet was the average, I think. I started working on that with my staff. Mobile was eleventh or twelfth in the nation in tonnage as a port. It could be better.’” -U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

He talked about doing this for over 14 years, saying:

“I worked on that for 14 years to try get (all told) a $1 billion to deepen the harbor and modernize the port and everything that is going to happen. It’s happening right now. It’s not there yet. But that’s an example of infrastructure that will help the whole state, not just Mobile and not just Baldwin County. But the whole region.” -U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

He also spoke about the transformation of Mobile from a commodity port to the fastest-growing container port in the nation.

He said:

“Mobile was basically what we called a commodity (port),” Shelby said. “But it’s become a container port and one of the fastest growing in the nation. You have five railroads going into the port, the interstate highway, and just about joining it is Brookley. You’ll have an intermodal center of air, rail, truck, and sea.
Why am I focused on that? That’s a national interest. It’s a state interest, too. It’s good for the region and good for the state.” -U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

AL.com reported that Senator Shelby’s passion which led to the investment in the Port of Mobile is “starting to pay off” as activity is “booming” and container “tonnage” for ships will continue to rise as the infrastructure improvements are completed.

Improvements at the Port of Mobile

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Port of MobilePhoto byAlabama Port Authority

These are the improvements completed and in progress that encourage larger container ships to the Port of Mobile:

  • Additional storage space
  • Airport project at Brookley — (almost completely funded)
  • Bayway project — (not yet funded)
  • The channel will be deepened from 42–45 feet to 50 feet to accommodate larger containerships
  • Dock extensions
  • Larger cranes
  • New 1nterstate 10 bridge — (not yet funded)

(Source: AL.com, Sharp)

From July 2021 to July 2022, the Port of Mobile saw a 35.8% increase in dry and refrigerated cargo and a 185.7% growth in intermodal cargo. (Source: AL.com, Sharp)

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics ranked the Port of Mobile number 11, moving 53.2 million tons through the port in 2020.

Federal Maritime Commissioner Praises the Growth at Port of Mobile

AL.com reported that two members of the Federal Maritime Commission visited the Port of Mobile on Wednesday, 16 November 2022.

While visiting, Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel, Federal Maritime Commission gave high praises to the Port of Mobile.

“The port of Alabama is the fastest growing container port in the United States, number one. That is impressive.” -Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel, Federal Maritime Commission (Source: AL.comSpecker)

It is important to note that Mobile received additional activity, especially during logistical issues the country was facing during the pandemic at West Coast ports where ships could not unload their cargo or had to wait for the shipping ports to free up space.

Officials are hoping that new business gained during the pandemic “will stick” with new shipping routes to the Port of Mobile. (Source: AL.com, Specker)

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, R-Arab, shared that the success of the Port of Mobile will positively impact the rest of the state, including North Alabama.

He said:

“It’s important for the entire state of Alabama,” he said. “If the Port of Mobile does well and has greater access, then our companies and our industries will do better too in north Alabama.” -Alabama Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (Source: AL.com, Specker)

The Port of Mobile is experiencing tremendous growth, and city officials are hoping that the trend continues far into the future as new improvements are in place. 

Many people recognize that much credit is given to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby and his passion to secure federal funding to improve the Port of Mobile.

Sources

Sharp, John. “Alabama city to recognize Senator Richard Shelby with ‘Shelby Point’.” AL.com. 22 November 2022.

Specker, Lawrence. “Federal maritime commissioners praise growth at Port of Mobile.” AL.com. 16 November 2022.

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Port of Mobile. Alabama Port Authority.

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Zack covers interesting and inspiring news stories that impact local communities. He has a bachelor's degree and an MBA.

Huntsville, AL
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