Hoping to lower shipping costs, officials with Port Everglades have agreed to help construct and operate an intermodal container transfer facility.

Port Everglades starts intermodal rail projectCommissioners with the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based port have approved a memorandum of understanding with the Florida East Coast Railway that has the port providing 42 acres for the facility in the Southport area of the port. The operation is expected to help facilitate the transfer of containerized cargo entering the port and placed onto rail cars at the rail yard via connecting rail spur line.

The proposed container transfer facility remains unique compared to similar port facilities because the site plans to handle domestic and international cargo, according to a port news release.

The railroad handles such cargo on a smaller railroad-owned 14-acre site located away from the port. The combined facility close to the docks should give port clients competitive transfer and shipping fees and provide the port a competitive advantage over other ports, according to the release.

The port is also touting how the intermodal facility should lower truck traffic on local roadways and reduce congestion on nearby highway, the port said in the release.

The 30-year agreement with the railway and Broward County, the port’s owner, includes two 10-year renewal options.

Broward County plans to contribute the project’s land and conduct joint marketing programs. 

Through grants, the Florida Department of Transportation plans to fund $18 million of the $72.8 million project.  The railway plans to seek $30 million from a state infrastructure bank loan. 

In July, the department of transportation broke ground for an overpass, an important step moving the intermodal facility forward by allowing an at-grade rail connection directly to the port.