A delegation of congressional staff members from the offices of Florida’s representatives in the House and Senate* met with leadership at JAXPORT and Port Canaveral on February 20th and February 21st. These meetings, as well as educational tours and activities, were coordinated by the Florida Ports Council to allow federal representatives a first-hand look at the positive impacts made by strategic infrastructure investments at Florida’s seaports.
“Florida’s leadership in Washington D.C. has been invaluable on federal issues including seaport security and investment,” said Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council. “It’s this leadership that ensures Florida will be able to continue a focused investment in its system of seaports and freight mobility infrastructure.”
The group was given a waterside tour of JAXPORT’S three cargo terminals at Talleyrand, Blount Island and Dames Point. The Army Corps of Engineers also provided an overview of channel deepening operations currently underway in Jacksonville Harbor to allow for larger cargo vessels to transit these cargo terminals. To date, the federal government, the state of Florida, JAXPORT, and port tenant SSA Jacksonville have contributed or pledged a combined total of more than $394 million dollars toward the cost of the $484 million deepening project, the first project of its kind to include funding from a private business. Upon completion of the deepening project, the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island will feature a vessel turning basin and have the ability to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax vessels.
Representatives from the cargo terminal operators also discussed the importance of the Jones Act and infrastructure investments at JAXPORT on the economy and jobs.
The tours concluded at Port Canaveral on February 21st with an overview of cargo and cruise activity at that seaport. Representatives from Royal Caribbean, the Coast Guard and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office provided the group with an overview of cruise passengers processing, including a demonstration on the use of facial recognition technology to process debarkation from a cruise ship.
The delegation also toured the construction of a new cruise terminal to understand the ongoing costs to ensure the safety of cruise passengers and the general public being built into new construction. When complete, Cruise Terminal 3 will be homeport for the first liquefied natural gas-powered ship based in North America, Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras. The $163 million project is the largest in the Port’s history.
Florida seaports will continue to work with local, state, and federal partners to ensure multimodal investments are in place to efficiently and cost effectively move containerized goods on-port, and to their final destination. Strategic planning and investments remain key elements ensuring Florida is prepared to service larger, new-panamax vessels as a global hub for trade with the Americas, Europe, Asia and beyond.
* Attendees included staff from the offices of Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and the following members of Congress: John Rutherford, Daniel Webster, Bill Posey, Brian Mast, Michael Waltz, Frederica Wilson and Ted Yoho.