USA: Governor Signs Legislation to Prioritize Port Projects

Governor Rick Scott signed two bills on June 14 that facilitate economic development opportunities by prioritizing Florida’s investment in vital transportation projects, including improvements to Florida’s 14 deepwater sea ports.

Improvements to Florida’s ports ensure they are prepared to benefit from the anticipated international trade expected from the expansion of the Panama Canal, ratified free trade agreements and the growing economies of Central and South America.

“Well over one million Florida jobs rely on international business, and along with international investment, it accounted for about one-sixth of Florida’s economy last year,” Governor Scott said. “We want the world to know that Florida is the ideal location to ship products to and from the entire Western Hemisphere.”

The legislation positions the Florida Department of Transportation to build an interconnected, efficient transportation system, as guided by its long-range vision plan. The legislation reduces bureaucracy and streamlines decision making to allow faster project delivery for infrastructure improvements that employ creative financing alternatives, offer transportation choices, and develop future transportation corridors.

Florida’s leadership is committed to making sure that our state is prepared to capture some of the growing international trade market share,” said Doug Wheeler, President of the Florida Ports Council. “With Florida ports seeing more cargo and cruise passengers than ever, increased funding in seaport infrastructure is critical. We thank Governor Scott, the Florida Legislature and our partners at the Florida Department of Transportation for their focus on positioning Florida to become a significant global competitor.”

Specific benefits to Florida’s ports include funding initiatives that allow the private sector to invest in projects and grow jobs. The funds available for the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Program are increased to $15 million from $8 million. In addition, two programs are created to increase Florida’s investment in seaports:

– The Strategic Port Investment Initiative within the Florida Department of Transportation will provide a minimum of $35 million per year from the State Transportation Trust Fund.

– The Intermodal Logistics Center Infrastructure Support Program will provide will provide $5 million per year for roads, rail, or other methods used to move goods through a seaport.

Governor Scott signed Senate Bill 1998, Transportation, and House Bill 599, Transportation and Mitigation Programs, while participating in the Breaking Down Barriers to International Trade Forum hosted by World Trade Center Miami. The legislation is part of Governor Scott’s Job Creation and Economic Development Package, which was first announced in October 2011.


Dredging Today Staff, June 15, 2012