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Tradepoint Atlantic Reaches Deal To Add 165-Acre Container Facility

A satellite view of the sprawling Tradepoint Atlantic development site in Sparrows Point.

The massive Tradepoint Atlantic industrial and transportation hub on Sparrows Point will soon add a new container facility to help bolster receptacle shipping at the already-thriving Port of Baltimore.   

Developer Tradepoint Atlantic announced Tuesday it reached a joint venture deal with Terminal Investment Ltd., and the partnership plans to build a 165-acre container facility with an on-dock rail facility at Coke Point.

The firms touted TIL’s experience as a container site developer and said the additional repository provides Baltimore an edge in competing with other East Coast ports.  

“This is one of the most important and consequential announcements we have made since setting out with our initial plans to redevelop the former Sparrows Point Steel Mill,” Tradepoint Atlantic Managing Director Kerry Doyle said in a statement.

The project will mark the next phase of development at the 3,300-acre Tradepoint Atlantic site, already home to facilities owned by companies like Volkswagen, FedEx, BMW and Amazon.  

Over the last eight years, Tradepoint Atlantic has redeveloped and remediated the site, which is located just east of the city in Baltimore County and was used for steel manufacturing dating back to the late 19th century. When Bethlehem Steel owned the steelmaking plant in the 1950s, it was the largest steel manufacturing plant in the world.  

In its newest iteration as Tradepoint Atlantic, the site is being repositioned as a global distribution hub with nearly immediate access to interstate highways, rail and shipping.    

The Port of Baltimore ranks No. 18 among the nation's top 25 ports in terms of cargo tonnage, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Port of Baltimore was also one of five ports in the nation that ranked in the top 25 in all three cargo categories: container, tonnage and dry dock.  

Baltimore's port also ranks second in North America — No. 1 in the U.S. — for the number of autos and light trucks that pass through it annually. 

But the Port of Baltimore has lagged behind in container shipping. Adding a container facility with an on-dock rail facility at Tradepoint Atlantic is expected to boost the container shipping business coming into the port. 

The Port of Baltimore’s biggest obstacle to boosting container shipping has been its inability to ship double-stacked containers via rail to the Midwest. 

However, a partnership between Maryland, the federal government and CSX is addressing the challenge with a $466M overhaul of the antiquated Howard Street Tunnel. Those improvements include raising clearance in the 127-year-old tunnel to allow double-stacked container trains to move through the city.

“Tradepoint Atlantic has been a critical addition to the port since they began developing the Sparrows Point site,” Maryland Ports Administration Executive Director William P. Doyle said in a statement. "[This] news further strengthens Baltimore as one of the top ports in the country."