(Jan. 7) CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In spite of the warm Texas weather, things are cooling down at the Port of Corpus Christi.

At their December commission meeting, the port board of commissioners voted unanimously to spend up to $5 million expanding the port’s cold storage facilities. Work already has begun converting one of the port’s cargo dock warehouses into a dedicated chill facility.

The facility, which is expected to be completed this summer, will give the port an additional 122,000 square feet of cold storage space.

This is good news for those wanting to import fruit through the port. Port commission chairman Ruben Bonilla said in a news release that the additional space will be used to increase the port’s fruit program.

“Two years ago, the Port of Corpus Christi was not in the refrigerated cargo business,” he said. “Now, we are expanding to accommodate demand. With the new chill facility, the port expects to capture more fruit imports.”

The port’s fruit import program began in August 2001 with the arrival of more than 16,000 cartons of Enza apples from Napier, New Zealand.

The original cold storage facility was constructed in 2000. At 99,520 square feet, the warehouse has handled both chilled and frozen product in its three rooms. The two chill rooms can each hold 2,600 pallets of product, including that of the port's targeted Rio Grande Valley citrus growers.

The refrigerated center has truck access to Interstate 37 and Highway 181, as well as rail access provided by Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Tex-Mex railroads.

Completion of the renovated facility will bring total refrigerated space at the port to more than 220,000 square feet.

The cold storage facility also uses the LogiMax software system from ICS, a software developer based in Jacksonville, Fla. The system provides support for all of the cold storage warehouse operations, including inventory management, pallet tracking and electronic data interchange.

For more information, visit the Web site at www.portofcorpuschristi.com.