( Courtesy Port Manatee )

Port Manatee, Palmetto, Fla., has received approval for an $8.3 million project that will nearly double the size of its dockside container yard.

The project, through a construction contract approved by the Manatee County Port Authority on July 28, will add 9.3 acres to the 10-acre paved facility adjoining the port’s berth 12 and 14 docks, according to a news release.

“Expansion of the dockside container yard to encompass 19.3 acres not only will accommodate dynamic demand from such longtime users as Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping and Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., but also will literally and figuratively pave the way for further global commerce opportunities at our flourishing seaport,” Carlos Buqueras, the port’s executive director, said in the release. “The expansion project is a cornerstone of the two-year, $38 million capital enhancement initiative under way at Port Manatee.”

World Direct Shipping has imported produce and other goods from Mexico since 2014, and Del Monte is in its fourth decade at the facility, importing bananas, pineapples and avocados from Central and South America, according to the release.

The project includes installation of 150 electrical receptacles for plugging in refrigerated cargo containers, bringing the port’s total reefer plugs to 600.

“In these challenging times for our nation, Port Manatee continues to thrive as a vital economic engine for our region and beyond, serving as a preferred gateway for numerous key commodities,” Priscilla Whisenant Trace, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, said in the release. 

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