Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen's Op-Ed Piece on the Miami River in El Nuevo Herald English Translation
The Economic & Environmental Renaissance of the Miami River
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
After years of hard work and dedication on the part of so many in our community, it gives me great joy to see the completion of the Miami River dredging project. This effort is a shining example of what can be accomplished when local, state, and federal officials come together to serve the people they represent. In a time marked by partisan political bickering I am proud to say that Members of the Florida Congressional delegationboth Democrat and Republicanjoined with me to secure over $45 million in federal appropriations to the project.
The project, first proposed by the Rep. Claude Pepper in 1972, has not been without its share of difficulties. Yet, it is a testament to the tireless efforts of those involved that such challenges have been overcome I am honored to be a part of creating an environmental and economic renaissance on the shores of the Miami River. Simply put, the dredging of the Miami River is a win-win. It's a win for the economy, and it's a win for the environment.
The completion of the dredging of the Miami River will significantly improve South Florida's economy. The river is the fourth-largest seaport in Florida based on cargo tonnage, and thus vital to the life of our local economy. Previously, the Miami River's 24 international shipping terminals were forced to fill cargo to only 50% capacity and to only navigate at high tide. Now, upon completion of the dredging, there is a 15-foot deep federal navigational channel through which vessels will be able to load cargo to full capacity, thereby substantially developing commerce throughout the area, boosting international trade, and increasing local employment.
Larger boats will now be able to travel the river and be serviced at its historic boatyards. This has led one boatyard, a small business that has operated on the Miami River for almost a century, to embark on a new $55 million expansion, which includes the addition of 350 new employees. Additionally, more international shipping terminals are opening, and larger shipping vessels have been acquired for future operation on the newly dredged Miami River.
The benefits of the Miami River dredging project are not only economic, but also environmental. The river's natural environment and habitat is now significantly improved. Dredging the sediment that has been at the bottom of the river for decades has created a superior environmental situation not just in and around the Miami River, but at its outlet in Biscayne Bay as well. The dredging process has removed hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of contaminated sediment, making the river deeper and cleaner.
This is the first maintenance dredging the Miami River has had in its history, and officials do not believe another will be necessary for a half-century or more. The river's outdated sanitary and sewer system will also be retrofitted. This project is a key element in the ongoing revitalization plan for the Miami River.
Through the Miami River dredging project, South Florida has the opportunity to further develop as an internationally recognized maritime hub. This project is an investment in the future of our community, an investment which will pay dividends long into the coming decades. The newly dredged river will help spur local business development and job growth, while doing so in an environmentally responsible manner. There is no better legacy to pass on to future generations.