“As ships get larger, it is critical that the Port of Baltimore has a berth with a 50 foot alongside depth by 2014 when the completed expansion of the Panama Canal will bring more cargo and larger vessels from Asia to the US East Coast,” said MPA executive director James White. “We feel strongly that, at this time, having a private partner contribute significant capital investment is the best option for us to go forward.”
Under the public-private partnership, the MPA would remain the terminal’s owner but would exclusively lease the 200 acre (81 ha) Seagirt facility, which opened in 1990, to a private partner that would invest in the new berth, cranes, and relevant infrastructure and provide a revenue stream to the Authority.
The lessee would be required to meet a minimum annual cargo guarantee and pay the MPA for existing terminal and waterside improvements to Seagirt. In exchange, the MPA would be awarded the portfolio of business currently under contract to the MPA/Maryland International Terminals – a nonprofit MPA subsidiary created in 1990 to give the port administration a direct role in labor negotiations and in operating public port facilities.
Statements of qualifications will be due to the MPA in May 2009 from which the MPA will develop a short list of potential bidders and it expects to make a final recommendation to the Maryland Port Commission and Board of Public Works by the end of 2009.