Proponents of a container terminal initiative along the Strait of Canso continue their path towards ‘putting shovels in the ground.’
Late last year, officials with the Melford Atlantic Gateway project issued a request for qualifications for those interested in completing detailed professional engineering work for the estimated $450-million, 125-hectare marine container terminal.
“We have taken the engineering and final design, and a number of other issues, about as far as we can take it, without going out for expert help, if you will,” Richie Mann, Melford Atlantic Gateway vice-president of marketing, said.
“We recognize we will need to prepare tender documents to construct a terminal. We will need professional engineering and design services to assist us with that – to make sure that, everything that we have done to this point is satisfactory.
“To look at gap analysis of what other things that we need to do and to assist us getting all that done, as we go forward towards the final tendering for construction,” he added.
Mann noted the 40-page request for qualifications document has been distributed to 10 engineering firms.
“We will look at the experience they have, we will look at the types of things that we need to get done and see what their experience at doing those things is,” he explained of the process.
“We will also look at references they have and we will meet with them and do evaluations.”
The request for qualifications was issued Dec. 15.
“There is a period where they can come back with questions and seek clarifications up until sometime in January,” Mann said.
The submission deadline is Feb. 13, with interviews scheduled to take place from Feb. 28 to March 1.
The contract will be awarded in mid-March, with a deadline to negotiate and execute it coming in early April.
“Without being completely definitive, it should send a signal to people that we wouldn’t be going through all of this effort and cost, if we weren’t confident those shovels were going to go in the ground,” Mann said, when asked what moving forward with this specialized engineering process means.
“What this will do is lead us to a final design, which we would hope will take place in 2018, and that it will lead to those shovels going into the ground.
“But, again, you have some negotiations to do in there – not just with the engineering firms, and this process up front, but also with your carriers and those other processes that are ongoing,” he added.
In early July 2016, Melford International Terminal officials announced a partnership, with SSA Marine and Cyrus Capital Partners, L.P., to construct the Melford Atlantic Gateway and focus on attracting shipping lines.
SSA Marine is a global independent, privately held marine terminal operator.
“I think we have made a lot of progress,” Mann said.
He described Melford’s partnership with SSA Marine as “invaluable,” noting its engineering team is leading the request for qualifications process and ensuing steps.
“We are very fortunate to have – not just the operating – but, also, the overall experience that they have from their 200-and-some operations, worldwide, and the significant number of resources – particularly human resources – they have that we can call on, when we need assistance,” Mann said.
As the request for qualifications notes, the privately-owned, 267-hectare Melford site will include; about 69 hectares with a 1,095-metre wharf, on-dock intermodal rail yard, container handling equipment, customs and cargo screening equipment; site security, utilities, truck gate, maintenance facility and an administration building.
Terminal development will also include construction of a new 32-kilometre rail spur to the existing Genesee & Wyoming rail line, electrical service corridor and Route 344 bypass road.
There would also be an adjacent logistics park.
Mann noted, when there are negotiations involved, “it takes any certainty of time out of the picture,” when talking about the timeline for the initiative.
“We certainly would like to see those shovels put a hole in the ground sometime in, probably, late 2018,” he said.
The construction period, depending on weather, would last an estimated two years, with a predicted start to operations in 2020.