Florida Port Expansion?

By: Troy Kinsey Email
By: Troy Kinsey Email

If you're a major shipping company looking for a port of call, Florida looks pretty attractive, but, don't dock just yet. Unlike most other American ports, ours don't have access to rail lines or the kind of water depth to welcome the world's biggest cargo ships...
At least not yet.

Rick Scott, Florida governor-elect, says, "We're going to make Florida the best place in the entire United States to do business."

In his quest to revitalize our economy, governor-elect Scott's transition team is out with a new report that recommends expanding capacity at each of Florida's ports. It also calls for dredging our four biggest ports - Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville and Everglades - to allow for those so-called 'super' container ships to dock.

"Our geographic location is the envy of the rest of the globe."

Dale Brill with the Florida Chamber of Commerce helped craft the recommendations. He says if they're implemented. we could see more than 143,000 new, high-wage jobs.

Brill says, "We are the state that's closest to Africa and the Suez Canal in the United States, on the eastern seaboard, and with the post-Panamax ships coming from the widening of the Panama Canal, they're going to bypass Long Beach and California, they're going to go somewhere, and we want them to come to Florida."

Port expansion may be critical to expanding Florida's economy, but it comes with a big price tag - around 1.8 billion dollars.

When Scott takes over here at the capitol, he may find it difficult to come up with the money, especially with a budget deficit in upwards of three billion.

Some critics are privately complaining port expansion might come at the expense of building and maintaining roadways. Without them, it's tough to move all that cargo from the port to the store.

"Everything state government does, it restricts our freedom, so what should we be doing?"

The answer from his own team - an overhaul down at the docks.
For his part, Scott has yet to make any promises.


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