Massport continues to make the right moves to support the advent of new mega ships and keep Boston’s port viable to the global shipping industry with the Massachusetts legislation approving $107.5 million towards the harbor expansion project. These funds partially provide Conley Container Terminal with the means for significant upgrades to service larger ships capable of passing through the Panama Canal. The overall cost of the project is $330 million, and the port expects to receive $220 million from unappropriated federal funds for the dredging, as well as local revenue to complete the project. The improvements will deepen the berth to 51 feet, and add three new cranes specifically designed to handle large ships while remaining below Logan International Airport flight traffic. Massport officials are already laying out preliminary plans and getting permits for the project. Some of the construction will begin in the fall with the dredging to follow next spring.
New England cargo services at the port can be an effective alternative to the Port of New York/New Jersey because the expansion will allow Conley to handle ships up to 12,000 TEUs. The increased capacity helps shippers use a smaller port like Boston to avoid the congestion found at NY/NJ while also providing short trucker turnaround times and benefits such as the Harbor Maintenance Tax Credit. As a result of congestions issues at the largest Eastern Port of NY/NJ, the annual volume at the Port of Boston continues to see significant growth year-after-year. In 2015, total TEUs increased by 11% with exports increasing by 5% and imports by 8 %. For the first part of 2016, overall volume rose 9 % with imports up 11% and exports up 17%.
With improved productivity at the port over recent years, container lines are taking notice of the advantages of making a call to Boston, especially after the port received an 8,500 TEU ship in April. Members of the CKYHE Alliance — Cosco, “K” Line, Yang Ming Line, Hanjin Shipping and Evergreen Line — are now making weekly stops at Boston with vessels of similar size rather than ships with a 4,000 to 6,000 TEUs capacity. Additionally, Boston also has weekly services to and from Northern Europe, South America, and the Mediterranean. New England exporters and importers value these direct services and fasts transit times, which help Conley demonstrate how important it is to national freight movements.