Port of Miami Growth: "Do You Really Need Two Warts on the Tip of a Penis?"

Categories: Politicks
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Deep dredging the port will require 1,000 days of blasting, yet the benefits are far from guaranteed
Authorities including Port of Miami director Bill Johnson are betting a three-part, $1.5 billion program to open the Port of Miami to super-freighters that pass through the revamped Panama Canal will mean a boom. But you'd be safer putting your money on the Marlins to make the World Series.

A $50 million project to connect the Port of Miami to Florida East Coast Railway lines comes on top of two massive projects already underway at the port. In March, Gov. Rick Scott pledged $77 million in state funds -- on top of $120 million of Miami-Dade funds -- to deep-dredge the waterway. And construction of the $1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel has clogged the MacArthur Causeway for more than a year.

Problem is, scores of ports around the country -- including a handful in South Florida -- are competing for the super-freighters. Only a couple will benefit, and Miami probably won't be among them.

"All East Coast ports had the same idea at the same time," says Jean-Paul Rodrigue, an expert on the Panama Canal expansion. "They all think that these ships are coming to them, so now they're salivating at the mouth."

In effect, Miami is spending itself into a hole to compete for table scraps. New York City, the nation's largest port, is the clear frontrunner for these large "Panamax" freighters, Rodrigue says. Norfolk, Virginia, already has a Panamax-ready port, and Savannah, Georgia, has better infrastructure than South Florida. Even Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades is deep-dredging and has signed an agreement with Florida East Coast for its own 48-acre rail yard.

"Miami is surprisingly not big enough in volume to justify a frequent service by these ships," Rodrigue cautions. Port of Miami officials could not be reached for comment.

"The Port of Miami is very competitive," says port spokeswoman Paula Musto. "The economy of South Florida is in serious trouble. The only thing that can get us out of this... is international trade and commerce. So it's important that we're ready to accommodate these Panamax ships."

Yet, while the benefits are dubious, the costs are definite.

"What a stupid fucking thing," says Dan Kipnis, a Biscayne Bay boat captain and environmentalist who opposes deep dredging and thinks the public has been misled about the project. "I'm not against commerce, but when you balance it out you see we're trashing the bay out forever."

Like Rodrigue, Kipnis suspects most of the Panamax ships will skip both Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

"Look at a map. We're at the tip of the penis," he says, whereas New York -- the head of the country infrastructure-- and Norfolk -- the heart -- make infinitely more sense for shipping companies.

Dredging will just leave both South Florida cities with deeply scarred bays and crippled environmental tourism industries, he says.

"Do you really need two warts at the tip of the penis?" Kipnis says.

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7 comments
Jeebus
Jeebus

most of the cruise ships have left Miami for Ft Lauderdale, the cargo is going to go to Jacksonville, I say it's hightime to close the port and build more condos and a big-ass marina.

Neil's ghost
Neil's ghost

Just another boondoggle by carpet baggers from somewhere else. Miami is still on open sewer of human fesces.

Big D!!
Big D!!

Norfolk ?? .... New york ??.... the South has more population than the Northeast .... why would you ship all the way to NY to deliver to say Atlanta GA.... when you could off load at Miami, Port Everglades, et al and ship overland much faster .... by the time a Panamax ship reaches NY a freighter off-loaded in Miami would already have delivered its cargo and be on its way back for another load ..... turn around time is the critical factor for Panamax ships .....

Scam
Scam

This is another scheme to make connected lobbyists and their clients more money.

Dumb elected officials
Dumb elected officials

As usual, Miami-Dade County and City of Miami elected officials make stupid divisions.

Tourism is our biggest industry.

Unnecessary dredging and construction could make tourists stop coming.

Rphl
Rphl

There's lots more to be critical of.  One super post panamax ship, if it comes would require 100 acres of backland to accommodate all the containers, unless there is advanced containeryard technology in place like Hong Kong.  No such technology is being put in place.  The entire port is little more than 300 acres, and half of that is not even for cargo.  The rail improvements underway will require trains to traverse downtown across Biscayne Blvd. by the AA arena, then through the city.  The shipping companies criticize this mode because it is more costly and will require another unloading at the rail yard onto trucks.  Limiting trains to overnight hours willl be noisy for nearby condo dwellers and only eliminate a small percentage of required trucking to move containers.  Where are the comprehensive studies justifying all this?

Rphl
Rphl

Do you know that Miguel de Grandy is the lobbiest for Odebrecht Construction, the company about to be awarded $55 million to prepare the bulkheads for 50 foot dredging?  This will happen at thurs. Sept 1 commission meeting

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