Port Authority to build road at Port Redwing

Photo courtesy of Tampa Tribune

Photo courtesy of Tampa Tribune

The Tampa Port Authority Board on [September 16] paved the way for future industrial and manufacturing development at Port Redwing, approving a bid to build a road on to the peninsula.  Infrastructure to lure businesses to the undeveloped swath just north of the Tampa Electric Big Bend Power Station should be completed within about three years.

The $2.4 million bid went to the same firm that built the Gornto Lake Road extension in Brandon recently. QGS Development Inc. has agreed to allocate at least 10 percent of the project’s work to area small businesses. The port has an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to use money from its Seaport Investment Program to finance $7.5 million in improvements at Port Redwing. “The entire program includes not only the road, but (security) fencing and next year, bringing rail into the facility and finally, a security gate complex and utilities,” said Bruce Laurion, vice president of engineering for Port Tampa Bay.

In all, Port Redwing infrastructure development is expected to cost about $15 million. Just last month, the board approved construction of the security fence for the 271-acre parcel. Once the road is built, the port plans to work with CSX to extend railroad tracks for 2.5-3 miles to accommodate business there.

“This is all about industrial and manufacturing uses and rail connectivity,” said Raul Alfonso, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for the port. “We’re looking to get long-term leases” on the property. Alfonso declined to give any specifics on the types of businesses the sites might draw other than to say it may include importing of raw materials, then exporting of finished products.

“We plant these seeds very early,” said Port Spokesman Andy Fobes, sometimes a decade or more in advance. Those seeds include letting potential clients know that Port Redwing has a strategic location for import and export, close proximity to South America and long-term growth potential, he said.

Port Tampa Bay is the only port in the state that has available land for major expansion and that is a great advantage, Fobes said.

The peninsula, jutting in to Tampa Bay is only partially owned by Port Tampa Bay. The 134 acres on the north side of the peninsula is Hillsborough County’s Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve. That property has been in the news recently as plans are in the works for a ferry terminal that would transport South County residents to jobs at MacDill Air Force Base. While there had been some discussion of whether the ferry passengers would use the port road to access the boat, neither the county nor anyone else has approached the port with any such request, Alfonso said.

Because the port property will be used for heavy industrial, large trucks would be using the road, which could also be blocked from time to time by trains loading or unloading goods at port businesses, Alfonso said. Whether or not the two uses could coexist is questionable, he said. Former County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, who represents the ferry company, has said that if the terminal is placed on the northwest corner of the Redwing peninsula, a separate road would be constructed for ferry customers.

Article courtesy of Yvette C Hammett, © Tampa Tribune