Today President Obama laid out specific priorities to boost Florida's economy now, including federal permits for deepening PortMiami and expediting a feasibility study for dredging Jacksonville's port.
"This is wonderful news for the entire state of Florida," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20). "Dredging PortMiami and JaxPort will create jobs for Floridians and make us more competitive in the global marketplace. These projects have been in the works for years, and I'm glad we have a President who understands the value of them becoming a reality. President Obama is right - we can't wait on these important initiatives that will boost our economy now.
"President Obama has reiterated how important he believes it is for our economy to grow not from the top down, but from the middle class out. He has a plan to restore economic security for Florida's middle-class families and create an economy built to last. It's going to help us responsibly pay down our debt while protecting investments critical to Floridians, like Medicare, innovation and education."
The Army Corps is working with PortMiami to deepen the Federal navigation at the port from its current depth of 42 feet to a depth of 50 feet. Once completed, the port will be able to accommodate larger cargo vessels and other ships, ultimately facilitating a more efficient movement of goods. The Corps expects to complete the deepening of the channel later this year. The dredging is expected to be complete by spring of 2015, just in time to be the first port along the eastern seaboard to receive the larger cargo ships that will begin shipping goods through an expanded Panama Canal.
In Jacksonville, the Army Corps of Engineers has previously said it expected to complete a feasibility study in 2014 for deepening the channel. The administration announced today that it will fast-track the study so that it is completed by April 2013, and then the Jacksonville Port Authority can seek funding to start designing the project and begin dredging.
These projects are part of the overall "We Can't Wait" initiative that provides funding dedicated to expanding ports across the country. Other ports to receive improvements are: Charleston, Savannah, and the Port of New York and New Jersey. The administration says dozens of additional projects to be expedited will be announced in the coming months.
The Obama Administration also announced the establishment of a White House-led Navigation Task Force that will consist of senior officials from various White House offices, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, Homeland Security, and the Treasury. The Task Force will develop a Federal strategy and coordinated decision making principles that focus on the economic return of investments into coastal ports and related infrastructure to support the movement of commerce throughout the nation.