There's a new Muddy in Toledo, and a new Spike, too.
Named after the mascots of the city's two most-prominent sports teams, they're the high-speed, high-efficiency cargo cranes at the Port of Toledo, which were officially introduced to the public during tours Thursday that followed a riverfront dedication ceremony.
The centerpieces of a federally funded, $35 million makeover of the port's cargo-handling equipment, the twin Austrian-made
Liebherr Mobile Harbor Cranes are intended to make Toledo's docks more attractive to shippers of all sorts of bulk and break-bulk cargoes, special-project shipments, and even containerized freight - the latter an ever-growing sector of waterborne transportation that is dominated by deepwater, ocean ports.
"It's really going to play a big role in transforming our region moving forward," Paul Toth, the port authority's executive director, said of the Ohio Department of Transportation's decision to allocate federal stimulus funds to Toledo's port rather than spend the money exclusively on highway projects, as it might have done in the past.
The 140-foot-tall, 240-ton cranes can lift up to 84 tons at a time and move 1,000 tons of cargo in an hour. They're faster than the 1950s-era cranes they will bump into reserve status while using only one-quarter the fuel, and they're more maneuverable, running on rubber tires instead of rails.
Naming them after the mascots of the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team and the Toledo Walleye hockey team was suggested by Madison Phillips, an eighth grader at Fassett Middle School. She was one of more than 250 area schoolchildren to enter a "Name the Cranes" contest the port authority sponsored.
The "real" Muddy and Spike presented her with a certificate for four plane tickets on Allegiant Air from Toledo to Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, during the dedication ceremony Thursday. Madison also won a $500 savings bond from Midwest Terminals of Toledo International, the Port of Toledo stevedore.
"My language arts teacher told us about the contest and suggested we should use names unique to Toledo," Madison said afterward. "I had just been to a Mud Hens game, and I thought of that on my way home [from school]. I'm very excited to be part of Toledo's history."
About a dozen other contest entries suggested naming the cranes after the local sports mascots, but all the others incorrectly identified the Walleye character as Wally, which made choosing a winner easy, port authority spokesman Carla Firestone said.
The port's two primary cranes for five decades, Big Lucas and Little Lucas, also were named through a local contest.
Its secondary cranes, two World War II-era relics, will be retired and dismantled after the new cranes are placed in service, which Jason Lowery, Midwest Terminals' director of business development, said should happen by the end of the month.
The two new cranes' components arrived in Toledo by ship May 17 and were assembled under the supervision of two
Liebherr engineers, who yesterday demonstrated their capabilities for spectators while Little Lucas unloaded yet another crane cargo - this one for CSX Corp. - from a ship docked at the port.
The M.V. Beluga Fanfare arrived in Toledo on Tuesday to unload 215 subassemblies and 65 container loads of parts for the five wide-span cranes that Evansville Western Railway, a CSX affiliate, plans to erect at a container terminal near North Baltimore, Ohio, that is under construction. The subassemblies, which include 30 hundred-foot gantry sections, are being trucked down to North Baltimore, while most of the containers were sent out aboard a special train Thursday.
The CSX facility, scheduled to open next year, will employ about 200 people and is expected to create 2,600 direct or indirect jobs within 10 years, said Peter Craig, the terminal superintendent for the railroad. Its "ultraefficient" cranes, also fabricated in Austria, will be 100 yards long and state-of-the-art, he said.
The terminal "will be an outlet to global markets for this community" along with allowing CSX to improve its handling of inbound and overhead freight that passes through northwest Ohio, Mr. Craig said.
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