At Governor Rick Scott's direction, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will begin the process for investing $24.4 million in matching funds to help support the channel widening and deepening project at Port Canaveral. The investment enables Port Canaveral to jump-start the project from its previous 2017 start date.
"Port Canaveral is a key component to the region's long-term vitality and a driving economic force of the Space Coast, as well as Central Florida's hub to the world, and this port and this region cannot wait several more years for this crucial project to be complete," said Governor Scott. "Florida will step up to help create construction jobs in the near future and lasting permanent jobs, rather than take a chance on getting the federal government's help."
FDOT will work with the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development (FSTED) Council on a plan to include the funding in the Department's Tentative Work Program, once the review process outlined in the Strategic Port Investment Initiative is complete. FDOT will seek the approval of the Legislature next spring.
The port calculates that the port's expansion will support 3,494 permanent jobs, plus 3,413 construction jobs, through this project and associated projects, such as the port's new cruise terminal and new cargo piers.
"Today is an exciting day for Port Canaveral. I thank Governor Scott for his continued investment in Florida's seaports," said FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad. "By widening and deepening the channel, Port Canaveral will be better suited to support cruise and cargo growth."
Rather than waiting for the lengthy federal approval and financial process, the port determined the project is so vital to their continued ability to support cruise and cargo growth that they want to continue to construct this project themselves. By using only state and local dollars, the port estimates it will save $12 million on total project cost through streamlined study requirements.
The project is critical for handling the port's current cruise ships, as well as for strengthening the port's ability to compete for larger ships in the future. By widening the turning basin and deepening the channel, the port will be able to handle larger shipments, thereby lowering transportation costs for bulk cargo such as jet fuel, slag cement and aggregate for road building, to support the growth of the entire Central Florida region.
According to a study commissioned by the Florida Department of Transportation, every dollar invested in the seaports yields on average, approximately $7 to the state's economy. However, given that Port Canaveral is a major cruise port with a growing cargo market, by starting and completing the project earlier than previously planned, the channel widening and deepening project is estimated to yield $11 for every dollar invested.
Florida is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in the volume and value of trade entering our ports. In preparation of the completed expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, Florida's investment in expanding and modernizing its seaports has grown approximately 278 percent, up from $148.8 million in 2011, to $562.7 million in 2013 under Governor Scott's leadership.
In 2011, Governor Scott put forward an important funding plan to widen and deepen the Port of Miami to allow the state to capitalize on the larger Post Panamax ships that will bring cargo to and from the United States. This important project is projected to add 30,000 Florida jobs in the coming years while allowing our state to outcompete other states for the Post Panamax shipping.