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Rail News: Intermodal

Florida, South Carolina ports continue to prep for Panama Canal expansion

Port Everglades executives on Monday met with Panama Canal Authority (ACP) officials to review their strategic alliance and receive an update on the canal's expansion program.

About 79 percent complete, the Panama Canal expansion involves the construction of a third lane of traffic to accommodate the passage of bigger ships and double current capacity. The port and ACP signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2011 to renew their alliance first forged in August 2009. The MOU commits both parties to share best practices, marketing activities and various data.

"Our partnership with Port Everglades further strengthens our shared goal of promoting trade growth in the region," said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano in a press release. "As we approach the completion of our expansion program, we look forward to pursuing even more mutually beneficial activities with [the] port." 

The port provides service to 70 countries, is a U.S. gateway for trade with Latin America, and has the shortest, straightest entrance channel in the Southeast, Port Everglades officials said. Florida East Coast Railway recently opened an intermodal container transfer facility at the port that can provide even greater ship-to-rail connectivity from South Florida to points throughout the United States, they said.

"The future expansion plans at both Port Everglades and the ACP are destined to give each of our residents and visitors better access to the growing global economy," said Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief.

Meanwhile, the Port of Charleston, S.C., marked a milestone with a project aimed at serving larger ships. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a draft integrated feasibility report and environmental impact statement for a harbor deepening project at the port, which is served by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.

Launched in 2011, the project calls for deepening the harbor to 52 feet to handle post-Panamax vessels. Following the completion of the Panama Canal expansion and raising of the Bayonne Bridge in New Jersey, larger vessels are expected to call on the East Coast more frequently, port officials said in a press release.
"The port's ability to handle post-Panamax vessels 24 hours a day without tidal restriction is critical to the future competitiveness of our state port system," said Jim Newsome, president and chief executive officer of the South Carolina Ports Authority. "Completion of our harbor deepening project ensures that [we] will continue to grow above the market average and remain a top 10 port."

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More News from 10/8/2014