Soon, Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-Tuscaloosa) long career, covering a span of six decades, will be coming to an end.
He will have left his mark expanding the federal footprint in Huntsville with Redstone Arsenal and NASA during his tenure. He will also be credited for paving the way for Birmingham's transition from an industrial steel manufacturing economy to health care by flooding federal dollars into the University of Alabama System for the growth of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
His legacy will also include Mobile, which is yet to be fully realized.
Over the past several years, Shelby, the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee since the departure of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in 2018, has steered millions of dollars for improvements to the Port of Mobile.
Included are a new container terminal and a deepening of the shipping channel to the port to allow for bigger vessels.
Shelby boasted about the progress of the Port of Mobile during an interview with Mobile NBC affiliate WPMI. He predicted an uptick in business upon completion in the years to come.
"We've been working on the port for 10 years or more," Shelby said. "We're deepening it now, spending hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions to deepen the port and also to clean up the rivers to do it, to modernize the port and to make it a container port. You've got a great director there in John Driscoll. I think it's a game-changer for Mobile. It's going to take three, four or five more years to finish all of that. But I think you're going to see a big boost in Mobile's employment and traffic.
"The biggest ships in the world ... that's what it is all about. The bigger the ship, the more the business because they can carry more on the load. Mobile, we're going to 50 feet. In some areas a little more. That will be a game-changer for Mobile and the Gulf Coast."
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