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Superior dock project secures $8.4 million federal grant

The C. Reiss Company is seeking to relocate from Duluth to Superior.

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Gary Meader / News Tribune Graphics

A project to rehabilitate a dock in Superior that hasn’t been used for 30 years has been awarded a nearly $8.4 million federal grant through the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP).

The C. Reiss Company coal dock was one of 25 projects nationwide to receive funding, according to a federal news release. The awards were announced Thursday, Dec. 23, by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“We got the full ask, which is fantastic,” said Jason Serck, planning, economic development and port director for Superior. “The work now begins.”

The Superior site was used as a dock for shipping purposes from the 1910s through the early 1990s, but has not been used since then. The C. Reiss project will include new dock walls and rail infrastructure; stormwater, road and utility improvements; dredging of 48,000 cubic yards of material; and construction of an office, repair shop and storage space.

Preliminary work has already begun on the project, including some geotechnical site work, permitting and design, according to C. Reiss Company president Mark Cummings. He said the Superior dock is projected to be operational by July 2023.

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The port grant dollars will fill the largest slice of the funding pie for the project, which has an estimated total cost of $17.3 million.
“This is kind of the icing on the cake right here,” said Serck.

Additional funds have been secured from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Harbor Assistance program, and C. Reiss has committed to providing nearly $4 million for construction and rehabilitation of the facility. An additional state grant has been applied for.

"Work will proceed regardless, but we are hopeful for another HAP grant for $1.5 million," Cummings said. "If we do not receive it, it may extend the timetable but will not impact the eventual relocation to Superior.

The city will serve as the flow-through agent for the grants.

Currently, C. Reiss operates their bulk handling on the Duluth side of the St. Louis River. Due to increasing water levels that cause annual flooding at their current facility, the company has been working to relocate to Superior at an existing dock they have owned for a number of years.

The company ships about 650,000 tons of material out of Duluth annually in the form of limestone, coal and road salt. Moving to Superior will allow them to handle an additional 1 million tons annually because of increased rail capacity at the Superior location. The Superior site has five sets of rails; the Duluth location has only one, according to the grant application. The Superior dock could accommodate larger ships, as well.

“We are very appreciative of the PIDP grant award and look forward to moving to our Superior location,” said Christian Zuidmulder, C. Reiss Company's vice-president of operations.

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Serck said city officials are excited to help facilitate the redevelopment of the vacant dock.

“It will make C. Reiss a more efficient company, and this project will continue to build on all the development successes we have had in the Twin Ports,” he said.

This story was updated at 2:46 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 29, with additional information and quotes from C. Reiss Company president Mark Cummings. It was originally posted at 6 a.m. Dec. 28, 2021.

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