City and state officials, as well as transportation executives, welcomed a new industrial crane to Portland’s International Marine Terminal on Monday.

The Leibherr mobile harbor crane, which can lift 124 tons, is expected to help speed loading and off-loading cargo from container ships at the port. It was paid for with money from a $3.2 million in state bond.

Among the dignitaries to attend the welcoming ceremony was Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt, who spoke of the importance of infrastructure upgrades.

“Transportation matters more than any other type of economic development,” he said. “And Maine businesses are realizing lower logistical costs.”

The crane, the second at the port, is expected to increase efficiency and reliability. It allows the terminal to service nearly twice the containers during vessel operations, service larger vessels in the future and provides back up in case the original crane ever goes offline.

In 2013, Icelandic shipping company Eimskip made Portland its North American headquarters. The addition of the new crane was hailed by its manager, Larus Isfeld, who said public investments at the International Marine Terminal have been crucial.

“It’s been just over five years since I greeted our first vessel,” he said. “Our volume has doubled since and we hope to double that again in the next five years.”

Shipped containers through the marine terminal have more than doubled since Eimskip opened its Portland operation, from 3,761 containers in 2013 to 8,790 in 2016. It began weekly calls to Portland in December of last year, transporting goods through a network that includes Canada, South America, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.

– ERIC RUSSELL

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