MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The Mobile Airport Authority and the Alabama State Port Authority have won a joint $100 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to fund transportation infrastructure, including the future Downtown Airport International Terminal. city of Mobile, according to a joint press release from the two organizations.
The MAA announced on August 21 that the international terminal will cost a total of $250 million. The construction of the companion parking lot and the parking garage will displace some businesses, which have already been notified that they must move.
$62 million of the grant funds will go to the new international airport terminal at Mobile Downtown Airport. $38 million will go toward building a connecting bridge to help containers move from ships to distribution centers. The money comes from USDOT’s Demonstration Program Grant, funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, and “aims to increase the efficiency of freight movement by air, rail, road and sea,” according to the release.
The statement quotes Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who said Mobile is poised for growth.
“This is one of the largest federal grants of my term in Congress,” Shelby said. “Mobile is uniquely positioned to become a major transport hub, with infrastructure already in place for sea, rail, air and highway transport.”
Shelby also said Mobile’s growth as a transportation hub could benefit the entire state.
“Our Gulf Coast and the entire state of Alabama stand to benefit tremendously from this funding in ways we can only imagine,” Shelby said. “Mobile has a lot to offer, and I’m thrilled that we’re using its existing infrastructure to create a new transportation hub and cost-effective power source for the entire state.”
The MAA said it plans to complete the new terminal at the international airport in 2024. The terminal would increase the airport’s commercial cargo capacity and enable the airport to more efficiently handle such cargo.
“This investment brings us closer to our goal of building a new debt-free terminal, and that’s exciting,” said Elliot Maisel, MAA President. “By avoiding debt, we can keep costs low for airlines and pass those savings on to our customers.”
MAA said the new international terminal will also provide “convenient and inexpensive air access for residents.”
“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity this funding creates,” said MAA President Chris Curry. “For residents, this move means more direct flights and lower fares. The new international terminal also creates increased air cargo capacity, which will drive economic growth and success on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
The $38 million for ASPA will go towards a new bridge that would connect the port’s marine terminal to the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) terminals. The new connecting bridge will improve the port’s ability to move containers from ships to rail. These improvements, along with “site development and civil infrastructure,” will occur as a $367 million canal deepening and widening project is already underway. ASPA expects this to be completed by late 2024 or early 2025. According to ASPA’s John Driscoll, now is the perfect time.
“The timing of this grant couldn’t be better,” Driscoll said. “The port is progressing well with the canal modernization program, and we have just closed calendar year 2021 with unprecedented growth in our intermodal container facilities. As we enter the expansion of our fourth container terminal, this port is poised to offer cost-effective, reliable and efficient cargo and intermodal freight service to underserved logistics markets regionally and across across North America.
Driscoll also praised Shelby’s support of these projects.
“We deeply appreciate the US DOT funding opportunity and Senator Shelby’s leadership in
modernize our port and multimodal transport infrastructure to meet the needs of shippers and
American trade is globally competitive,” Driscoll said.
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, quoted in the statement, thanked the senator, the congressional delegation and US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
“The incredible $100 million federal grant awarded today to the Alabama State Port Authority and Mobile Airport Authority will further expand and optimize our growing container terminal. and pave the way for an international airport that will connect imported and exported air cargo to our deep draft port, two interstate highway systems, five Class I railroads and 15,000 miles of track inland waterways,” Stimpson said. “A big thank you to Senator Shelby for his bold vision and unprecedented investment in our region. His leadership ensures the continued transformation of Alabama’s sea, air and inland port system into a world-class multimodal gateway to ensure the creation of new, well-paying jobs for generations to come. On behalf of the citizens of Mobile, we are sincerely grateful to Senator Shelby, our congressional delegation, and Secretary Buttigieg for investing in these great job-creating projects that will benefit our city, state, and country.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved plans to move airport operations from Mobile Regional Airport to Mobile Downtown Airport in April 2021, the result of a 2018 feasibility study that determined the move was “achievable and critical”.