May 27 - The Twin Ports maritime community will gather today, May 27, to officially break ground on a USD17.7 million intermodal project at the Port of Duluth.

The port claims that this development is the largest infrastructure project undertaken by the Duluth Seaway Port Authority since the construction of the Clure Public Marine Terminal, prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.

The long-awaited rebuild and expansion of the 28-acre Dock C&D will put a vacant, underutilised dock back into maritime service after more than 20 years, said the port authority.

Completion of the project will enhance Duluth port's intermodal capabilities, expanding its capacity to handle more heavy lift and project cargo, as well as enhancing the competitiveness of the region by increasing freight capacity via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.

As well as replacing corroded sheet piling and deteriorated wooden dock walls, the redevelopment process will include resurfacing the deck, reinforcing heavy lift capacity and constructing a new ro-ro dock.

The project also involves dredging adjacent waters for vessel berths, installing road and rail connections, as well as adding safety and security enhancements. Port officials expect the first phase of reconstruction to be completed in the third quarter of 2016.

The redevelopment project was funded in part by a USD10 million TIGER discretionary grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). An additional USD2.75 million in funding was provided through the Minnesota Port Development Assistance Program (PDAP); USD990,000 was awarded by the State of Minnesota's Contamination Cleanup Grant programme; and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority is investing over USD3.9 million of its own capital in this infrastructure renewal project.