Superior submitted a statement of intent to make more than $45 million in projects to improve the city's port eligible for state funding.
Projects that could take place over the next three years include dock improvements to facilitate a move for C. Reiss Coal Company, dry dock improvements at Fraser Shipyards and dock wall reconstruction at Elkhorn Equipment, according to the statement.
The three-year statement of intentions is required by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Railroads and Harbors to allow the city to sponsor projects to assist port operators in applying for grants through the state’s Harbor Assistant Program.
The project at Elkhorn is uncertain at the moment, and may just serve as a placeholder, said Jason Serck, the city's economic development, port and planning director.
However, he said the City Council is likely to consider a Harbor Assistance grant application next month for C. Reiss Coal Company, which is planning to move its operations from Duluth to Superior because high water levels are creating flooding issues at its Duluth facility. To facilitate the move, substantial improvements would have to be made to the dock, Serck said.
“We’ve owned the dock in Superior for quite a long time, and it provides us with a better opportunity for draft for vessels coming into our dock,” said Christian Zuidmulder, vice president of operations for C. Reiss Coal Company. “We’re pretty far up the St. Louis River in Duluth … the high-water level makes Superior attractive to us.”
The $15 million dock improvement project would include placing 2,035 feet of sheet pile for the dock wall and dredging the slip to a depth of 27 feet.
Zuidmulder said the Superior site would also give the company room to grow and would provide better access to the railroad. But with delays caused by COVID-19, he said it could be 2021 or 2022 before the project moves ahead.
The C. Reiss dock is west of Midwest Energy Resources Company and hasn’t been used for the last 30 years.
C. Reiss, with more than 140 years of operation, handles two million tons of bulk materials annually out of its four docks, including coal, limestone, petroleum coke and salt. Of that, 650,000 tons of material is shipped out of Duluth.
The other project with a high probability of getting done is the Fraser Shipyards project to rehabilitate dry dock No. 1, which was originally constructed in 1891.
Renewal of the dock would allow the company to accommodate additional vessel classes for repair, modification and fabrication.
The estimated $30.5 million project would be broken into multiple phases and would start with rebuilding the sill and gate, progressing to the peak of the dock. According to information provided to the city, each phase can be accomplished independently and would incrementally increase the functionality of the dry dock. Dry dock No. 1 is 628 feet in length, 76 feet wide and has a depth of 19.5 feet.
A second dry dock at the facility, originally constructed in 1902, is 831 feet long, 93 feet wide and 23.5 feet deep.
It was found that an additional 24 classes of vessels consisting of at least 188 individual vessels could be serviced with the renewed dry dock, according to city documents.