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Year-in-Review: North Carolina Ports

Wilmington's new cargo cranes, on their way from China.

By Megan V. Williams

Wilmington, NC – North Carolina Ports continued to expand the port of Wilmington this year, while taking the first major steps toward building a shipping terminal in across the river in Brunswick County.

Nearly a quarter more containers moved through the port of Wilmington this past year than in 2005, and the terminal continues with its 143-million dollar expansion plans. According to Ports CEO Tom Eagar, by late February the facility will have some major new equipment to handle the increasing traffic.

We'll be receiving four new hundred [foot] gage container cranes, Eagar said, They certainly will make quite an impact on the horizon as you come down Shipyard Boulevard.

The new electric cranes - painted a shade close to Carolina Blue - will stand nearly twice as high as those currently installed at the port.

This past April, the Ports Authority purchased the intended location of its future international port - six hundred acres of land near the Sunny Point Military Terminal - for $30 million.

The proposed port would handle nearly 2-million containers a year - four times more than the Port of Wilmington currently processes. The billion-dollar facility would rival the Port of Charleston in size.

Nearby residents have raised concerns about the future port, ranging from increased traffic in Boiling Spring Lakes to possible beach erosion on Bald Head Island.

North Carolina Ports CEO Tom Eagar says a number of state and federal agencies will study those concerns over the next two years, including an environmental impact study of the property, a survey of the navigation channel, and feasibility studies on highway and rail access.