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Trieste pushes through box terminal expansion

CONTAINER growth through the Adriatic may be slowing along with the global economy but Trieste is pushing ahead with a major expansion plan for its Pier VII container terminal nonetheless. A meeting between port authority officials and executives from operator Trieste Marine Terminal confirmed the guidelines of a €110m ($142.6m) investment aimed at boosting capacity from 470,000 teu first to 600,000 teu and then to 1.2m teu. The project is moving forward at a time when cargo growth in the northeast Adriatic is beginning to slow after several years of dramatic gains. At the same time, the lengthy approval process for this project could push its completion date to several years. In the meantime, TO Delta, the Maneschi family vehicle that controls TMT, is understood to be looking to Monfalcone just along the coast as a possible outlet for smaller vessels as pressure on TMT grows. A significant investment there would mark a major step forward for the Friuli Venezia Giulia region as it looks to create a port system capable of handling the volume increases of the future. Last year, TMT handled a record 335,943 teu, 26% up on the 265,863 teu registered in 2007.
Trieste has been buoyed in recent years by the fall of the iron curtain and its reconnection with its historic markets in central and southeast Europe. It is now acting on the belief that growth will continue over the long term, despite current economic uncertainty. The neighbouring ports of Koper in Slovenia and Rijeka in Croatia are following a similar path. Both ports have major terminal expansion plans under way. At the heart of Trieste’s long-awaited project is the lengthening of the pier by 300 m to 1,070 m to allow three large boxships to berth simultaneously. The naturally deep draughts in the Bay of Trieste will obviate the need for extensive dredging and help minimise costs. Two warehouses will also be demolished to create additional yard space, with the businesses that use those facilities transferred offsite. In addition, a study is now under way aimed at speeding truck access to the terminal, partly through the separation of box traffic from the existing ro-ro business, which may be transferred to a projected new terminal in nearby Muggia. The port authority said in a statement that it hoped to be able to submit the completed project for the necessary technical and administrative approvals. The new port operating plan, which includes the container terminal expansion, is also now going through the local approval process.

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