The Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority was created in 1978 by the Michigan State Legislature to plan, develop and promote the greater Detroit area as a freight transportation and distribution hub for the Great Lakes. The Port Authority oversees and promotes commercial and recreation activities along 32 miles of the Detroit River from Lake St. Clair to the Wayne/Monroe County border.
The Port Authority is the primary public conduit between private sector businesses in the Port of Detroit. In this role the Port Authority offers assistance in capital finance, development, applications and disbursement of public sector and foundation grant programs.
Each year, the Port Authority oversees more than 17 million tons of cargo at 29 private and public sector terminal facilities in the Port of Detroit. International and domestic high-grade steel products, coal, iron ore, cement, aggregate and other road building commodities are shipped in and out of Detroit’s port. It is the third largest steel-handling port in the nation.
The Port Authority owns the City of Detroit's only general cargo terminal, located in southwest Detroit. This terminal is responsible for the inbound movement of steel and project cargo that is utilized by the regions industries. There are approximately 1,500 trips into and out of the Port of Detroit by both domestic and international vessels each year.In addition to overseeing operations at the Port of Detroit's terminal facilities, the Port Authority advances projects and programs in the maritime domain that promote tourism, economic development, alternative energy initiatives, and environmental clean-up while protecting international borders from security gaps, securing more than $30 million in grants to fund these diverse projects areas.
From removing abandoned vessels and pollution from the Rouge River to engineering tugboats to run on cleaner fuel, the Port Authority's environmental programs are helping to green the Port of Detroit. It has offered financial assistance toward the revitalization of defunct port properties and brownfield sites into more productive use. The Port Authority has also funded research seeking to develop an off-shore hydrokinetic system that would capture water currents and turn them into useable energy.
As part of its alliance with the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, the Port Authority works to protect international borders by making strategic investments, offering specialized training, and facilitating greater coordination and communication across all stakeholders within the maritime domain.
In 1925, the Michigan State Legislature passed
Public Act 234, the Port Districts Act, authorizing the
creation of Port Districts to spearhead the
coordination of regional maritime activities. In 1933,
the Detroit Wayne County Port District was established
with jurisdiction over the waters and shoreline of
Wayne County. As more development began to take place,
a stronger need for concentration on port activities
arose, resulting in the establishment of the Port
Authority. The organizational board meeting was held
October 10, 1980. Henry Ford II served as the first
chairman of the board of directors.