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Duluth port shows off public terminal upgrades

Workers use a concrete boom to pour the heavy lift slab that will make up the centerpiece of the rehabilitated Dock C & D. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com

It may look like a parking lot, and in some ways, that's what the rehabilitation of Docks C & D at the Clure Public Marine Terminal has created.

But it's kind of a bigger deal than that.

"(The berths) triple surface storage capacity," said Sen. Al Franken after a tour at the port of Duluth on Monday. "This is good not just for Duluth but for all of Minnesota."

The $17.7 million infrastructure investment off of Helberg Drive gives the public port another 25 acres for commodities moving through the port, doubles heavy-lift cargo handling capacity and adds a roll-on/roll-off dock on a new rail spur.

"This expansion is a masterpiece of maritime workmanship," the Duluth Seaway Port Authority said in a release.

Franken and Rep. Rick Nolan, both Democrats, toured the port during a drizzly Monday afternoon amid a busy visit through Duluth.

"That is infrastructure we need for this port for the future," Nolan said of the public terminal.

The terminal expansion had been decades in the making and was made possible with a $10 million federal grant and $3.75 million in state money.

Thanks to renewed federal wind-energy credits, there's a good chance the area will be used to stage wind turbine parts

The terminal was previously owned by Cargill and hosted grain elevators; it was sold to the Port Authority for $1 in 1989.

Now, after 18 months of construction that saw 1,898 feet of sheet pile, 5.5 miles of H-pile and 62,000 cubic yards of dredged material, the Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing are about to take over the property from Lunda Construction and open it for the 2017 shipping season.

A 1,000-foot American Steamship laker will spend the winter in the space before it is opened to salties — two at a time will be able to fit along the 1,600-foot dock.

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