State officials broke ground Tuesday on a long-awaited expansion project at Honolulu Harbor.

Plans to build the Kapalama Container Terminal have been in the works since 2008.

Once completed, the terminal will add an 84-acre cargo container yard, 1,800 linear feet of new berthing space, and other upgrades that officials consider crucial for the continued success of Hawaii’s harbor system.

For example, the terminal would become the new home for shipping company Pasha Hawaii. Matson would then expand into Pasha’s old site at Pier 51 on Sand Island for a contiguous terminal of 130 acres.

“Right now, Pasha runs a stacked operation. That means it looks like building blocks. So in order for you to deliver, you’ve got to unbuild the building blocks to put it back. Matson runs a wheeled operation, so the efficiency ratio is about 3-to-1,” explained Darrell Young, Department of Transportation Harbors Division deputy director. “If you pick up something from Matson, it could take you as little as 20 minutes. You pick up something from Pasha, because of the unstacking and restacking, it will take you up to an hour to get your container out.”

Young says improving efficiency and adding more shipping options at the harbor could lead to lower, more competitive prices for customers.

The project will be constructed in two phases over a roughly four-year period with an estimated project cost of $448 million.

A second phase will consist of waterside construction, which is tentatively scheduled to be out to bid later this year, pending permit approvals.