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ABT Automated Baghandling and Shiploading Terminal, 1996 OCEA
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The Port of Galveston was was the home of the  first fully integrated automated grain handling system in the United States – the Automatic Baghandling and Shiploading Terminal (ABT). The project utilized innovative dockside unitizers and innovative design and construction techniques including four different piling systems, bulkhead system, dock extension, and the integration of existing transit sheds, silos and wharfs (that had been originally constructed in 1925). While the facility was being constructed in Galveston, the dockside unitizers were being constructed in Belgium; they were then shipped fully assembled and ready to set into place. The ABT was then connected to bulk transfer areas for automated bagging of loose grain products by the dock-side rail system and a conveyance system above the second floor gallery of an existing transit shed.

Engineers designed the ABT to match the color scheme and historic feel of the adjacent port facilities - fully integrating it into the 1925 architecture. Construction of the facility was challenging because piling foundations had to be placed under an existing wharf and inside an aging warehouse. Engineers were able to achieve this feat by cutting holes into the roof of the structure and driving pipe piles at the floor slab level inside the warehouse. They did this 5 feet at a time, welding another 5 feet to the pile, and starting the process over again; they drove 1,000 feet of piling in this manner. Interestingly, of the project’s $33 million dollar price-tag, $32.65 million was covered by private investors - a venture which was recognized in Project Finance Monthly’s “top 24 financed projects in the world” in 1995 and which provided untold economic benefit to the City of Galveston and surrounding taxing authorities as well as agricultural communities in the Midwest, and to the US balance of trade.

ABT Management Inc.
Sylva Engineering Corporation
Turner Construction Company

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