Richie Mann, vice-president of marketing for Melford International Terminal, said funding for the project has already been secured.
“It’s fair to say that there’s significant interest in the project. The value proposition is certainly getting the attention of the major carriers and, as I said, we remain optimistic,” said Mann.
Mann said a freight customer base must be developed prior to terminal construction.
“We have a desire to get construction going as soon as possible,” said Mann. “We will not do that until we have all of the elements in place that we deem necessary, and that includes cargo commitment.”
In July 2010, Maher Terminals announced it would be taking an unspecified stake in the terminal, which will cover 315 acres and include an intermodal on-dock rail facility and a 1,500-acre logistics park on the mainland side of the strait.
Mann said the terminal is expected to take up to 26 months to build, with operations to begin in 2014-15.
Melford developers must first build a public loop road around the terminal site that will connect Route 344 to each side of the terminal.
Melford will take ownership of an existing section of road that will become redundant, while the deed to the new road will be given to the province.
“We’ve been working on securing cargo commitments and you know, those discussions are going well and now we’re dealing with the major carriers around the world and it takes awhile,” said Mann. “You work your way through the Canadian and the North American head offices and on to Europe and Asia, and it’s a process, I guess. Difficult to speed it up too much.”
The terminal, which is a private-investment venture, will not involve a port authority.
According to an economic impact statement, the terminal is expected to employ up to 80 people per shift. That estimate doesn’t include customs and security officers, associated trucking and construction jobs, as well as jobs associated with the development of a proposed logistics park.
Mann said another factor in the construction of the terminal will be a minor upgrading of the nearby railway.
Cape Breton Post