Florida’s Ports Positioned for Panama Canal Expansion
October 17, 2012 - SCMR Editorial
Miami-Dade County today announced that the contracting phase of its project to deepen the Port of Miami’s channel to minus 50 feet has begun with the solicitation of bids by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013 and be completed in time for the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in early 2015.
“The ‘Deep Dredge’ project is critical to the future growth of Port of Miami,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez.
He added that the Port of Miami will be one of only three U.S. Atlantic ports to be at the required -50 feet level in time to welcome the new generation of larger container cargo vessels arriving via the expanded Panama Canal.
Bill Johnson, the port’s director, said that a deeper channel will provide ships with a more efficient, reliable and safe navigational route into Miami.
“As the closest port to the Panama Canal, we are well positioned to capture new trade opportunities,” he said. According to Johnson’s forecast, the port will double its cargo traffic over the next several years.
Thanks to the pledge of $112 million from Governor Rick Scott and the State of Florida, the port’s “Deep Dredge” remains on schedule to open in sync with the expanded Panama Canal, helping transform Florida into a global logistics hub.
Meanwhile, a smaller, but important regional port to the north is undertaking three key expansion projects over the next six years. According to authorities at Port Everglades, the Broward County gateway will add five berth; widen and deepen the channel to 50 feet and bring freight rail into the port.
According to spokesmen, Port Everglades must widen and deepen its channel to 50 feet to remain competitive with seaports in the Southeastern U.S.
“The port already handles Post-Panamax ships,” said spokesmen. “But they must be lightly loaded, which is inefficient and drive carriers away to other ports.”
Shipping analysts note that the Port of Miami and Port Everglades are the 11th and 12th busiest container gateways in the U.S. for international trade. They add, however, that both need deeper channel to meet the projected growth of South Florida’s business.
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