Burns Harbor port undergoing significant infrastructure expansion

Written by Laura Miller

The major steel-handling port in Burns Harbor, Ind., is getting substantial infrastructure upgrades.

The Ports Indiana-Burns Harbor facility currently has more than $77 million in infrastructure and expansion projects in various phases of development, the port said.

This development is important for the steel industry, given that the port is home to a diverse range of steel companies. These include three steel mills—Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor, U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant, and NLMK Indiana—and 15 steel-related businesses, including service centers Ryerson, Worthington Steel, Kenwal Steel, and Steel Cities Steels, among others.

Nearly 80% of the total cargo moving through the Burns Harbor port is steel or for steel manufacturing, according to the port’s website. In recent years, annual steel tonnages have been 1.3 million to 1.5 million short tons of steel, a spokesperson for Ports of Indiana told SMU. The port doesn’t handle a lot of iron ore, as the mills have their own docks and receive it directly, according to the spokesperson.

“This port is going through a transformational multiyear expansion, and the amount of construction happening right now exceeds every year since the port was built in the 1960s,” Ports of Indiana CEO Jody Peacock said in a statement.

A $25-million multimodal project is currently in the works and will significantly enhance the port’s capabilities once completed. Specifically, three additional ship berths will boost the port’s capacity for handling ocean vessels by 35% and two new railyards will increase the storage capacity for 250 additional railcars.

A $9-million break bulk cargo facility is also being constructed, which will add an 84,000-square-foot warehouse and raise the port’s covered bulk storage capacity by 70%. Completion is planned for next year.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is constructing highway bridges to expand the port’s entrance from two lanes to four. The $35.4-million project is a multiyear endeavor.

Additionally, $8.3 million in other capital investments are being made in paving projects, to develop industrial sites, rehabilitate rail and docks, and make other upgrades.

“These are critical projects that ensure our port remains an international gateway for ocean vessels, lakers, and river barges and that our multimodal infrastructure can meet growing freight demands in the Northwest Indiana and greater Chicago market,” Peacock added.

This article has been updated from its original posting to reflect the annual steel tonnages the port handles.

Laura Miller

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