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State grant aids Hallett Dock project

The second phase of a project to give fully loaded ships full access to Hallett Dock No. 8 is getting a boost from the state.

The company with facilities in Duluth and Superior is planning to rehabilitate 1,200 feet of dock on the Superior waterfront.

In 2007, the company rehabilitated 800 feet on the outer edge of the dock, said Mike McCoshen, president of Hallett Dock Company. Then in late 2007, the company rehabilitated another 300 feet of the dock on its own after 180 feet collapsed, repairing the collapsed section and 60 feet on either side of the collapse to reinforce it, he said.

Now, the company is planning to rehabilitate 945 feet between the out section of dock and another 245 feet on the other side of the 300-foot section rehabilitated in late 2007.

Wisconsin's Harbor Assistance Program is picking up the tab for 80 percent of the project costs, estimated at more than $4.1 million.

The state will pay $3,332,269 of the project costs and Hallett Dock Co. will pay $833,067, said Jason Serck, Superior's Port and Planning director.

Since 1979, when the Harbor Assistance Program was created, more than $73 million in grants have been awarded for projects to maintain the state's eight ports, including about $1.7 million for the first phase of the Hallett Dock No. 8 rehabilitation project.

"It's going to be beneficial for us in the fact that we'll then be able to dredge the slip to seaway draft," McCoshen said. "We'll be able to dredge to 28 feet. Right now, the outer 800 feet is as 28 feet, but after that, there is a 23-foot draft coming up. The vessels coming in can't come in with a full load."

Used for storage of inbound materials, that limits how much materials the company can accept and where it can be stored. A fully loaded ship can use only the outer end of the dock, and only one ship, the John G. Munson, has a self-unloading boom on the bow of the ship that allows more flexibility.

Once the project is complete, McCoshen said fully loaded ships that can only access the outer end of the dock, will be able to access the full length of the dock.

With several projects on the drawing board and mining operations on the Iron Range, McCoshen said there is potential for handling limestone for the mines and aggregate for the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through the Superior dock.

In addition to construction jobs -- not yet determined -- McCoshen said he anticipates the project will create additional jobs at Dock No. 8.

"It will immediately add one person over there and over time, it will add several more," McCoshen said.

But it isn't just Hallett Dock that will benefit. In the long-run, McCoshen expects the project to benefit the railroad too because more materials will come in and more materials will go out by rail.

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