Packer Avenue Marine Terminal Berths 4 and 5 Improvements


Chartered 300 years ago, the Port of Philadelphia (PhilaPort) provides commerce to a large percentage of the U.S. population. As container carriers have grown larger, however, the cargo shipping industry has trended toward ocean-friendly port development. The Delaware River journey to PhilaPort became a time and distance liability, eroding the port’s significance. To elevate its long-term importance in today’s globally competitive market, PhilaPort received nearly $300 million in capital investment program (CIP) funding from the administration of the Pennsylvania governor.

In conjunction with a deeper river navigation channel, CIP funds empower PhilaPort to strengthen ship-to-shore operations, engineer multiple project improvements, and accommodate the world’s largest container vessels. As program and construction manager for Phase 1 improvements to the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal (PAMT), Gannett Fleming oversaw infrastructure upgrades to Berths 4 and 5 of PhilaPort’s largest maritime facility, which received $188 million, the lion’s share of CIP funding.

What We Did

Improvements at PAMT included readying two berths to receive a pair of 32-story-high super post-Panamax ship-to-shore container cranes, which increase the terminal’s container handling capacity to 1.2 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from 900,000 TEUs. Crews worked 24/7 to overcome design challenges and harsh winter conditions while reconstructing the terminal and installing deep piles to support the cranes, each weighing 1,528 metric tons and reaching 23 containers wide.

Using an agile process method, Gannett Fleming combined design and construction to break the project down into manageable tasks completed collaboratively in priority order. As a result, the project team successfully completed river construction before a mandatory cessation of operations in preparation for delivery of the new cranes. Through it all, our firm managed the coordination of three construction contractors and contracts encompassing purchase, delivery, and installation of new high-performing fenders and bollards that allow for the safe docking and mooring of larger vessels.

Key Features

  • Deep piles with specially designed extensions provide secure support for massive container cranes.
  • 32-story-high cranes serve the largest container vessels in use today.
  • Fenders and bollards enable safe docking and mooring of shipping vessels.

Awards & Recognition

  • Project of the Year, 2019, Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Mid-Atlantic Chapter.
  • Diamond Award Certificate, 2019, American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania, Diamond Awards for Engineering Excellence.


  • Multi-project PhilaPort CIP will create 9,000 waterfront-based and related jobs.
  • Electrification of existing diesel cranes minimizes noise pollution and lessens greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Upgraded crane power regeneration capability reduces operations and maintenance costs.
  • Marine terminal’s container handling capacity increased by 33 percent.
  • Facility able to accommodate the world’s largest container vessels.
  • Secure foundations enable effective operation of 1,528-metric-ton cranes.


Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


Philadelphia, Pa.


Program and Construction Management

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