Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Launches New Rail Loop

The Port of Cleveland held a ribbon-cutting today to mark the launch of a new rail loop that will provide better and more efficient service at the port, and improve access to markets throughout North America.

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Standard & Poor’s upgrades rating on Port Authority bonds

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has given bonds issued through the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority’s Common Bond Fund program a BBB/Stable rating, stating that it views the program’s enterprise risk profile as “strong.”

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eNewsletter: September 2012

William D. Friedman
President & CEO

Welcome to the inaugural issue of our e-newsletter.  This is an exciting time for the Port as we advance new initiatives and help continue our community’s momentum.  Cleveland is in the midst of a surge in public and private development, and the Port is actively engages in these efforts.

We believe the Port is and must be a catalyst for job growth, economic vitality, and vibrant waterfronts. And we are strategically executing on that mission. For example, along the Cuyahoga River we are leading efforts to fix the 30-acre Franklin Hillside in Ohio City, which is slowly sliding into the river and threatens the ship channel that is vital to so many workers and companies. We are also helping to develop our community by securing private financing for projects such as the Flats East Bank complex.

On the lakefront we are working to create a busier port with more services for more companies, while consolidating our terminal operations to open additional land for the City of Cleveland’s mixed-use development. Along both the riverfront and the lakefront we are pursuing public access projects to link the people of Cuyahoga County to these natural assets in new and inviting ways.

We will use this newsletter to keep you informed of our progress and showcase the successful efforts of our partners and others throughout the city and region. In each edition, we will highlight our maritime work in a section called “On the Docks,” our environmental and infrastructure efforts in “Along the Water,” and our economic development and finance projects in “In the Community.”

These focus areas tie directly to the three fundamental themes that are at the heart of our 2011 Strategic Action Plan:

  • Creating opportunities for job growth and business expansion;
  • Developing civic assets by solving critical infrastructure challenges; and
  • Managing the Port to maximize economic, environmental, and community benefits.

We continue to moving forward with our action plan, and we will regularly and transparently report on our progress. The Port has launched this newsletter not only to provide updates on our progress, but also to stimulate a dialogue with the public. As part of our public outreach we have also developed an improved website (portofcleveland.com) and will soon be engaged in new online conversations through The Civic Commons website (theciviccommons.com). And we will continue to look for more ways to enhance our lake and river, our economy, our environment, and our community.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss our newsletter or other Port work. 

Did You Know?           

  • Nearly 18,000 jobs depend on Cleveland’s Port-and-river maritime activities and investments
  • More than $1 billion in family income annually is supported by Cleveland’s maritime sector
  • $112 million in local and state taxes are generated annually that help keep our communities safe, clean, and attractive

On the Docks

Port to better serve new and existing customers with new rail loop

A new rail loop on the Port’s lakefront docks will soon give shippers improved service at the Port and better access to markets throughout North America. The loop will allow all cargo shipped through the Port to move on either the CSX or Norfolk Southern (NS) railroads, connecting the two sides of the Port’s rail system for the first time.

“Getting the rail system right at the Port was a top priority since it was not working the way it should,” said Port President and CEO Will Friedman. “We put a great deal of effort into understanding how rail can benefit our existing and future customers, and with the new rail loop, we can better position ourselves to serve more shippers.”

Slightly more than a mile long, the rail loop is the Port’s largest construction project in a decade and was built with help from the state, which provided approximately $3 million for the $4.5 million project. Cleveland Commercial Railroad Company (CCR), which operates 23 miles of railroad in the area, created a new subsidiary, the Cleveland Harbor Belt Railroad (CHB), to operate and market the new rail loop.

Friedman expects that by working with CHB, the Port and its customers will see a vast improvement in service levels and efficiencies. Smoothing out operations and providing better service should also boost the Port’s direct marketing and help it attract a more diverse group of shipping customers.

Prior to the construction of the rail loop, virtually all cargo handled through the Port originated from or was destined for local companies. “You could draw a 75-mile ring around the Port with very few shipments extending beyond that point,” Friedman said. With its dedicated railroad, the Port will compete for customers carrying over-sized and large volumes of cargo.

With the loop the Port has more than doubled its rail capacity – with room for at least 60 rail cars – giving more shippers the opportunity to use the Port to transport larger volumes. CHB will work with the Port, NS, and CSX to market to companies that need this type of service.

As the closest major U.S. port to the St. Lawrence Seaway system, which is the all-water route between Cleveland and the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Cleveland will also serve as a transit point for cargo exiting the country. “The rail loop gives Cleveland a competitive edge because it can connect to anywhere in North America, but it also connects more shippers in North America to points in Northern Europe and beyond,” said CCR’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Brown.

The new rail loop is another example of the Port’s focus on investing in its maritime operations to better serve new and existing customers, expand and strengthen its business, and continue to generate jobs and income for Greater Cleveland.

Along the Water

Great Lakes Restoration Conference Coming to Cleveland

Next week, the 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference comes to Cleveland and will showcase a series of  successful hometown renewal projects.

The conference will take place September 11th through the 13th at The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. The conference is one of three separate but related events that will occur as part of Great Lakes Week. It is expected to bring together more than 350 citizens, professionals, scholars, conservationists, and public officials from areas in and around the Great Lakes to learn about and discuss innovative restoration initiatives, network with each other, and develop strategies to advance federal, regional, and local restoration goals and policies. The Port is pleased to help sponsor the conference, which ties into our strategic intent to be a steward to our lake and river, and advance an environmentally sound and sustainable agenda.

 “We’re excited about returning to Cleveland,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which is organizing the Restoration Conference. “Cleveland has been at the center of iconic triumphs and challenges in the effort to restore the Great Lakes — from the comeback of the Cuyahoga River and resurrection of Lake Erie to the proliferation of new threats including invasive species and excessive nutrients. The city offers powerful examples of how restoration programs produce results — and the ongoing work that needs to be done to restore the Lakes before the problems get worse and more costly.”

The conference will feature numerous lecture sessions, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and field trips that highlight Cleveland’s important role in the health of the Great Lakes.  The Port will make a presentation on the development of our Sustainable Sediment Management Plan. Every year, sediment is dredged from the Cuyahoga River to maintain the depth of the ship channel, and then placed as waste into landfills. Our aim is to instead use this sediment as a resource to benefit the community on projects ranging from brownfield redevelopment to roadway construction.

Conference attendees will also take a boat tour of the North Coast Harbor and the ship channel with Port staff members that will highlight our work – as well as the work of others — from a unique vantage.

For more information about the 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference, please visit healthylakes.org.

New Port work boats will soon begin removing floating debris from Cleveland Harbor

If you happen to pass the Cuyahoga River later this month, keep an eye open for Flotsam and Jetsam, the Port’s two new, custom-designed work vessels that will soon be removing floating debris from the Cuyahoga River ship channel and the downtown Lake Erie shoreline.

The Port – working with the staff of the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan – received a $425,160 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant last year to build the boats, which will work in tandem to collect and remove a wide range of floating debris from tree limbs to plastic bottles.  This debris is more than an eyesore  – it can be a problem for the commercial vessels that use the ship channel daily, as well as for recreational boaters and wildlife.

Why the names Flotsam and Jetsam? To quote Jim White, the Port’s director of Sustainable Infrastructure Programs: “You are what you eat.” Jim also developed the design concept for the boats. Research dating back to 1999 made two things clear: too much urban debris was entering the river, and natural debris was finding its way into the shipping channel from natural riverbank erosion. While these types of debris are unavoidable in waterways, the Port made it a priority to develop methods for cleanup as well as solutions with long-term economic, environmental and community benefits.

What makes Flotsam and Jetsam the right boats to get the job done is a unique and innovative design that allows them to nimbly navigate the tight spaces of Cleveland’s famously crooked river—work that large-scale debris harvester vessels used at several ports along the East Coast cannot perform.

Flotsam will work as the excavator, scooping up debris with a shovel and then placing it in the “Bagster” containers that Jetsam will carry. The debris will then be transferred to pre-determined sites along the shore for pickup. Flotsam won’t be the only one doing the heavy lifting; Jetsam will have a specially built crane that can grab larger, heavier pieces of debris, such as tires and logs. From April through October (weather depending), the boats will be on the water daily with a combined crew of 4-6 members. They are expected to remove between 400-800 cubic yards of debris annually, an amount that could fill as many as 53 dump trucks.

With this new clean-up team in action, the Port continues to create ways of making our lake and river more attractive, active, and inviting for everyone. 

Fast facts on Flotsam and Jetsam

  • Flotsam is the marine term for debris that floats off sinking vessels or falls into the water (such as trees upriver).  Jetsam is the marine term for items that are thrown into the water.
  • The vessels are 25’10” length x 11’ wide (beam).
  • They are aluminum, have diesel powered outdrives, and weigh about 17,000 lbs. each.
  • Their service speed is 6.5 knots an hour.
  • They are designed to tow a 250-foot floating boom that will be able to regularly sweep the river of floating debris.

In the Community

Migration Mania at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve

The Port is inviting the community to a Fall Migration Mania celebration on September 22nd at the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, a unique wildlife habitat on the lakeshore and in the city.

The event will be held from 7:30 a.m. until noon and will showcase the fall bird migration during guided hikes led by environmentalists along the Preserve’s 1.3-mile loop trail. In addition, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) will bring live indigenous animals, such as red-tailed hawks, black rat snakes, and opossums, and discuss these and other wildlife found on the Preserve.  Admission and parking at this event and the Preserve are always free.

“The Preserve is a perfect place to encounter nature,” said Harvey Webster, who is director of the Wildlife Resource Center at CMNH and will speak at the Sept. 22 event.  “Millions of birds pass through annually, using the Preserve as a staging area on their way south – a nice little rest stop for them with shelter and lots of food. Migration Mania is a great way to see and learn more about them, other animals in the area, and the Preserve in general.”

Located on Lake Erie’s shoreline near downtown Cleveland, the Preserve is an 88-acre man-made peninsula and wildlife habitat where more than 300 species of birds have been seen, along with more than 40 species of butterflies, and animals including coyotes, foxes, reptiles and deer.

Formerly a landfill for river sediment known as Dike 14, the site had previously been open to visitors only a few times each year. But the Port opened it on a daily basis this year to create new opportunities for public access to nature and the lakefront. The diverse mix of habitats includes grasslands, a forest area, meadows, mudflats, shrub lands, and wetlands. Audubon Ohio has designated the site as an Important Bird Area.

Since the February opening, the site has had more than 11,000 visits. “The Preserve has been a great draw with a wide reach,” said Linda Sternheimer, the Port’s development manager. “In less than eight months, people from 13 countries and 36 states have visited.”

This year’s Migration Mania marks the ninth annual event, evidence of the longtime commitment to the Preserve by Greater Cleveland’s environmental community. Nearly 10 years ago, area organizations formed the Environmental Education Collaborative (EEC) to promote the use of Dike 14 as a site for recreation, bird watching, and learning, particularly for urban children who lacked exposure to nature.

A change in leadership at the Port in 2010 brought a new commitment to opening the Preserve for daily visits and managing it as a civic asset “We saw the great value this beautiful natural setting could provide for our community, and are committed to helping them enjoy it and serving as steward for this unique asset,” said Will Friedman, President and CEO of the Port. “We encourage the public to enjoy the Preserve not only during Migration Mania, but year round.”

Webster echoed Friedman’s comments: “It’s really unprecedented to have 88 acres of prime lakefront land devoted to preserving and enjoying nature,” Webster said.  “When you walk along ‘the beak’ point of the peninsula at the furthest west point, you can take in a commanding view of the downtown skyline.  But in most spots, you feel as if you are in the wild.  It’s just tremendous what has happened here, and everyone should experience it.”

The Port’s financing programs: Two decades of supporting development

As we approach the 20th anniversary of our first foray into the world of development financing, the Port is proud to have secured nearly $2 billion for projects in Cleveland and our region.

Our first project was a big one for Cleveland —The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1993, the Port teamed with leaders of the Rock Hall, offering our help to provide key financing needed to construct the iconic building at North Coast Harbor.  The Port stepped up then and has been doing so ever since, becoming a partner in dozens of development, redevelopment, and expansion projects that have created new employment and preserved existing jobs while helping to develop key community assets.

The Port’s economic development and financing work has supported projects in a range of sectors including: medical, industrial, civic, the arts, professional sports, and education. These projects stretch from Cleveland’s downtown and neighborhoods to surrounding suburban communities including Euclid, Westlake, and Independence.

We have worked with a broad range of companies including Jergens, Inc., Applied Industrial Technologies, Heidtman Steel Products, Inc., Eaton Corporation, and Swagelok. And our development finance programs have also supported key civic assets around the community such as The Cleveland Clinic, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Browns Stadium, and Cleveland State University.

With a long history of diverse and successful financing, the Port has established creative methods to provide development funding for the community it serves.  As we complete our second decade of financing projects, we look forward to continuing this important work as a key partner for development in Northeast Ohio.

For a more in-depth look at these and other projects, please click here:

Project Summaries:
http://www.portofcleveland.com/development-finance/1993-1999/

or

Map of Projects:
http://www.portofcleveland.com/development-finance/financing-map/