A $120-million modernization project in the Port of Montreal will optimize the port’s intermodal transport network, increase opportunities for short-sea shipping, allow the port to handle more post-Panamax ships, and update dry-bulk terminals.

The Montreal Port Authority (MPA) will invest $80 million in the project, to be carried out over a period of five years. The Government of Quebec recently announced that it will provide $40 million in financial assistance toward the project.

The MPA will build new track in the port’s railway interchange zone, which will optimize the port’s intermodal transport network and improve rail fluidity for Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways, terminal operators and shipping lines. The MPA operates its own on-dock railway system that is directly connected to CN and CP and their North American networks, with daily departures to Toronto, Chicago and Detroit. Some 60 to 80 trains move through the port each week.

The MPA will modernize Bickerdike Terminal, operated by Empire Stevedoring Co. Ltd., by reconstructing and developing areas to handle containers and other cargo, thereby increasing opportunities for short-sea shipping. Among the shipping services that the terminal handles are Oceanex Inc., which sails between Montreal and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The MPA will improve dockside fenders so that the port can accommodate more and more post-Panamax-type ships, the largest type of vessels sailing to Montreal. A decision made by the Canadian Coast Guard four years ago to allow these types of ships, including 6,000-TEU (20-foot equivalent unit container) vessels, to sail to Montreal has allowed shipping lines to substantially increase capacity on their services to the port.

Finally, the MPA will modernize dry-bulk terminals so that they can more competitively handle commodities such as sugar and salt. The port handles some 4 million tonnes of dry-bulk cargo, excluding grain, every year. Logistec Stevedoring Inc. operates the dry-bulk facilities in the port.

“This project will increase productivity and allow the port to maintain its competitive edge,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the MPA. “Quebec and Canadian importers and exporters will benefit, in particular, from greater terminal capacity and improved fluidity and, in general, from a better quality-price ratio offered by port facilities.”

The provincial government announced its financial assistance at a press conference held in the port in May. Laurent Lessard, Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification, Jean D’Amour, Minister for Maritime Affairs, and Martin Coiteux, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy, Minister of Public Security and Minister responsible for the Montreal region, were on hand for the announcement.

The financial support is granted under a component of the Programme de soutien aux investissements dans les infrastructures de transport maritime (Support program for maritime transportation infrastructure investments), which ensures implementation of the Government of Quebec’s Maritime Strategy.