By Staff Report
Alabama State Port Authority Director Jimmy Lyons was a witness in a US Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. US Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., introduced him as a witness in the subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Lyons discussed his work at the Port of Mobile and its impact on the state and the Gulf Coast region.
“Retail distribution is beginning to realize that they cannot be totally reliant upon the west coast and east coast to efficiently move at all times, so they are looking for alternate gateways,” Lyons said during the committee hearing. “We have the bigger ships coming in, and it is important.”
Senator Shelby questioned Mr. Lyons and Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about the modernization of the Panama Canal.
A wider Panama Canal will have a large impact on the nation’s ports, particularly the Gulf Coast ports.
The Port of Mobile is currently 400-feet wide and hosts ships that are up to 160-feet wide.
Lyons said, depending on the number of large ships coming into the Port of Mobile, the port is often restricted to one-way traffic. Ships sometimes have to wait to enter the port, which is affecting the cost structure of those ships.
The Port of Mobile became a container port in 2008.