Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor looks to build on 8 percent increase in shipments

The first ship of the 2017 season arrived at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in April.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor looks to build on an 8-percent increase in cargo shipments last year as it plans a major expansion.

The deepwater port in Portage and Burns Harbor handled 2.8 million tons in 2017, due to increases in limestone, steel, refinery tanks, laboratory equipment and windmill components. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor also handled the Icarus liquid argon particle hunter, the largest in the world and the most valuable cargo to ever pass through the Northwest Indiana port. It journeyed from Switzlerland to the Fermilab in Batavia.

"FMT strives to meet the needs of all its customers, regardless of shipment size," said Matthew McPhail, Federal Marine Terminal's vice president of sales and marketing. "Our ability to handle large-dimensional cargo is due to our safety-conscious staff, our modern equipment and the facilities the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor provides."

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The port doubled the size of its bulk terminal, brought in the new stevedore Metro Ports and got a federal FASTLANE grant to fund about half of a $20 million expansion. The port plans to expand its dock by 1,200 feet and build two rail yards, a new shipping berth, a truck marshalling yard and a new bulk cargo terminal to handle transfers between ships, barges, rail cars and trucks.

"We had a strong year in part because our world-class companies continue to drive new business through our port," Port Director Ian Hirt said. "Going forward, we plan to build on this success and make sure this port is well positioned for the future. The continued growth of general cargo shipments managed by our partners at Federal Marine Terminals, the addition of Metro Ports taking over our bulk cargo operations and our strong labor force are all critical elements in this port's success. This expansion will allow our current companies to continue to grow and help us attract new business for our port and the Northwest Indiana economy."


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.