PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The International Marine Terminal could become bigger and busier if the planning board approves an expansion.
The terminal would expand to the west side of the Casco Bay Bridge, adding 12 acres of land and five acres for a rail corridor.
Funding for the project comes from tranpsortation bonds voters approved in November. The $100 million in bonds set aside $24 million for intermodal projects.
Connecting to a railway is significant for the Maine Port Authority. According to Executive Director John Henshaw, a rail connection would simply the shipping process and cut costs.
Currently, shippers have to unload containers and send them to a different port if they want to send them by rail. The expansion project would allow them to do it all in one place.
Henshaw said the expansion would also allow the terminal to accomodate one vessel each week. Right now, they have a ship come in every other week.
"It means new opportunities for Maine, it means increased access to existing markets for Maine businesses, but it also means access to entirely new markets," said Henshaw.
He said they plan to advertise for construction by June, and would like to have the project complete by the end of the construction season.
The cost of the project depends on the cost of acquiring the privately-owned land on the west side of the Casco Bay Bridge.
Maine DOT is negotiating with those landowners, and Henshaw said he is confident the money from the transportation bonds will cover the expenses.
Before DOT submits the proposal to the Portland Planning Board, the department will hold a public input session on March 12 at 6 p.m. at Portland City Hall.