Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Massive Port Project Nears Completion

Ethanol byproduct will soon start flowing through facility, and onward to other continents.

By - Jan 21st, 2023 09:12 am
The DeLong agricultural maritime export facility. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

The DeLong agricultural maritime export facility. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

The final shape of the largest port of Milwaukee investment in more than 60 years is now clearly visible.

The $40 million facility, to be operated by Clinton-based DeLong Company, will be primarily used for exporting a nutrient-rich byproduct from converting corn to ethanol to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It’s being funded as a public-private partnership between the city, state and federal governments and the private company.

DeLong already coordinates the export of dry distillers grain with solubles (DDGS), via shipping containers and coastal ports, to Asia. But the new complex, formally the Agricultural Maritime Export Facility, will provide a purpose-built facility and logistics network to compete in many more markets. It will also allow DeLong to avoid using shipping containers, which are ill-suited for the moisture-laden product and in increasingly short supply.

The ship loader and stair-wrapped tower are now clearly visible from the Hoan Bridge and other points along the harbor. When complete, the large, overhead system will be used to load up to 40,000 bushels (1,100 metric tons) per hour onto either barges or ships. The facility is located along the inner harbor on the west side of S. Carferry Dr.

The DDGS will be lifted up the tower from the white “product storage building,” which appears to be nearly complete. According to a 2021 report, the building and a series of attached silos will be capable of storing up to 45,000 metric tons (1.7 million bushels) of the byproduct.

The storage system will be fed by a rail yard, capable of storing 110 hopper cars, and a truck terminal. A yet-to-be-completed receiving terminal and overhead conveyer will transport the DDGS across S. Carferry Dr. to the store facilities, while trucks will unload directly adjacent to the facilities.

Ships will dock next to the facility and are expected to carry loads of between 10,000 to 20,000 metric tons each. Project partners hope to export between 160,000 to 300,000 metric tons annually, with an estimated $40 million worth of goods being shipped in the first year.

A 2020 port report said that the project would eliminate 1,600 truck trips annually. Six of Wisconsin’s nine ethanol plants currently truck DDGS past Milwaukee to an intermodal facility in Joliet, IL where standardized shipping containers are available. Ocean-bound products coming from plants and farms outside of Wisconsin are expected to arrive via rail.

In addition to Wisconsin ethanol plants, DDGS is expected to arrive from southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.

DeLong hired Michels Corp. to perform site work. The Scharine Group is constructing the conveyance systems. Legacy Building Solutions will build the flat storage building.

“This is a marriage of the happy family of the city, state, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and federal government,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) at the facility’s October 2021 groundbreaking. The federal government is contributing $15.89 million via a grant, WisDOT is contributing $6.15 million, the city (via borrowing) is contributing $5.7 million and DeLong is contributing $7 million. DeLong is covering cost overruns while additional funding is pursued.

“The facility will open Wisconsin’s maritime and agricultural economies to new international markets for this commodity and many others,” said then port-director Adam Tindall-Schlicht at the groundbreaking. Corn and soybeans are also expected to be exported through the facility, according to a February 2021 report.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson said it builds on Wisconsin’s strengths. “First, it invests in the largest city. Second, it invests in agriculture,” he said at the ceremony.

DeLong is leasing a 4.42-acre site, 1711 S. Carferry Dr., from the city-owned port and will own the facility built atop it. The company will pay approximately $3.5 million in lease payments over 30 years. If DeLong doesn’t renew its lease, the port will have an option to buy the facility.

According to a February 2021 presentation from DeLong, the facility will create four to six on-site, full-time jobs. “The biggest thing is it will open new markets for hundreds of Wisconsin farmers,” said firm vice president Bo DeLong.

The facility is expected to be fully operational this spring.



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3 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Massive Port Project Nears Completion”

  1. Mingus says:

    This is a great example of several units of government and the private sector combining resources to create a shipping opportunity what will boost Milwaukee, ethanol producers and Midwest famers. Such a collaboration is beyond the thought process of the Luddite Republican legislators who infest our Madison political process. Their idea of political process which they sell to their constituency is promoting the culture wars while their voters live off farm subsidies, Medicare, and Foodstamps.

  2. Polaris says:

    Great news! Milwaukee benefits from having a working port…the more work, the better!

  3. Marty Ellenbecker says:

    This design locks in wasted time, energy and money.
    The tower for intake, storage and retrieval should have been built in the middle of 2 separate buildings. That would have cut the storage/retrieval time and distance by nearly half per cycle. Split infrastructures would spread wear and tear on equipment, and avoid total shutdown if a problem or breakdown would occur.

    The center location would have involved slightly more construction and expense to make it (laterally) bidirectional , but this would’ve been amortized quickly.

    DDGS production will eventually wane as energy production shifts sources, but the need for new grain types and sources to survive changing climates is likely to more than make up for it.

    This facility’s wide intake reach by rail and it’s even wider export range through the port bode well for its success.

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