Wicker, Hyde-Smith, Palazzo Celebrate $8 Million For Rail Projects at Two Mississippi Ports

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Approves Port Infrastructure Funds for Ports in Hancock and Monroe Counties

December 23, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Representative Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., today celebrated the release of more than $8 million in U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) grant funding for rail projects at two Mississippi ports, Port Bienville in Hancock County and the City of Aberdeen Port in Monroe County.

The delegation members wrote letters of support for applications submitted by Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission and the City of Aberdeen for Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) grants. The grants are funded through FY2021 appropriations approved for the Maritime Administration by Congress last December.

“Ports, waterways, and the broader maritime industry are a cornerstone of Mississippi’s continued economic growth,” Senator Wicker said. “Increased support for hard infrastructure at Port Bienville and the City of Aberdeen is good news for job creators, dockworkers, and consumers alike. These projects will streamline connectivity and capacity, allowing more commerce to move through our waterways every year.”

“The completion of these two projects to improve port and rail coordination will expand the ability of these ports to handle more goods and services. Improved rail infrastructure at Aberdeen and Port Bienville will lift both regions economically, which is a more than worthwhile goal,” said Senator Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“In a time where we see supply chain issues all over the news, I’m pleased to see this investment in the economic engine that is Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission’s Port Bienville Industrial Park. The additional capacity and intermodal capabilities will not only expand economic opportunities for Hancock County, but also improve freight movement and logistics network resiliency for the entire region. The future economic growth and vitality of Hancock County and the entire nation is linked to the quality of our transportation infrastructure,” said Congressman Palazzo.

“Port Bienville is an intermodal logistics hub for 16 companies with global reach. Due to rising customer demand, Port Bienville Short Line Railroad is operating 25 percent over capacity.  The port currently has storage track designed for 480 railcars but is accommodating an additional 116 cars.  The PIDP grant will add storage for railcars which will alleviate congestion, reduce unscheduled overtime and increase safety and efficiency,” said Bill Cotter, Hancock County Port and Harbor CEO.  “We appreciate the continued support of Congressman Palazzo, Senator Hyde-Smith, Senator Wicker and U.S. DOT for providing opportunities and enhancing economic activity in Hancock County.”

Details of the PIDP grants to Mississippi entail:

  • Port Bienville, Hancock County – $4.14 million for the Port Bienville Railroad (PBVR) Intermodal Yard Project involving an additional railcar storage yard to add 130 spaces and construct a siding.  The new storage yard would increase PBVR capacity by 25 percent and reduce congestion for tenants across the park.  The project would generate significant storage fee revenue and provide additional capacity to grow and attract new tenants and enhance regional partnerships and opportunities.  The federal funding also comes with a $2.52 million local match to complete the project, for a total of $6.66 million in hard infrastructure improvements.
  • City of Aberdeen Port, Monroe County –  $4 million to construct rail from the nearby Kansas City-Southern (KCS) Railroad to its area of port operations. This 14,000-linear-feet rail spur would allow local chemical and manufacturers along the KCS railroad to move products by barge through the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The rail spur would allow the port to offer multi-modal services by connecting it to Class I rail. Currently, users must send products along the mainline to Columbus.  KCS has agreed to operate the rail spur once constructed.